Risk & Compliance

Dutch Treat? Aegon Aims for TARP Funds

Netherlands-based company, which owns U.S. insurer Transamerica, eyes buying Maryland's Suburban Federal Savings Bank to qualify for as much as $1b...
Roy Harris and Stephen TaubNovember 18, 2008

The attraction of the Treasury Department’s promised Troubled Asset Relief Program dollars is spreading — across the Atlantic.

Dutch insurer Aegon NV said it may buy Maryland-based thrift Suburban Federal Savings Bank, to qualify Aegon for the government TARP bailout program. “This is part of our strategy to ensure Aegon has the strongest capital position possible,” Aegon spokesman Greg Tucker told Reuters. “If Aegon is eligible, we would seek the minimum range of funding possible.”

The Netherlands-based Aegon, which currently owns U.S. life insurer Transamerica, derives three-quarters of its operating profit from the United States, Reuters noted.

The news service noted that potentially more than $1 billion in U.S. government support could be available to Aegon if the acquisition were completed. However, concerns that Aegon’s statement reflected a worsening capital position at the company sent its shares down more than 8 percent after the story appeared.

Tucker told Reuters that Aegon is not experiencing liquidity problems, and would use the TARP money for its U.S. operations.

At least three other insurance companies — Hartford Financial Services Group, Genworth Financial, and Lincoln National — have announced plans to buy small banks to qualify for TARP funds.

Tucker told Reuters that Aegon expected a decision from the U.S. authorities before the end of the year.