NETHERLANDS - Dutch insurer Aegon predicted a cautious flat forecast for 2002, despite registering a 16% increase in net income for 2001.
Aegon saw overall profits before tax rise from EUR2,066m in 2000 to EUR2,397m for 2001, in what was described as a difficult year.
The firm said that due to economic uncertainty and volatile markets, a wide range of earnings forecasts for 2002 were possible.
“Therefore, barring unforeseen circumstances, net income and net income per share for 2002 are expected to be at least equal to the 2001 earnings,” it said.
Figures from Aegon Asset Management (AAM) proved a key highlight. In its third year as an independent asset manager, the unit continued its strategy of focusing on its three key businesses - retail, institutional and insurance. Third party gross sales for the three areas rose 14% to £540m.
Strong pension fund demand for corporate bonds helped to cement AAM’s position in the fixed interest market, with mandate wins of more than £410m last year.
Aegon UK, parent company of AAM and retail arm Scottish Equitable, reported an overall 5% rise in 2001 pre-tax profits to £231m.
The group’s executive board chairman, Kees Storm said: “While difficult financial market conditions continued in the fourth quarter, Aegon was still able to achieve its forecasted earnings level.
“General account invested asset growth for 2001 was 16% and investments held for the account of policyholders decreased just 1% in a depressed equity market. We are very well-positioned to benefit from our strong portfolio of businesses in an improving economic and financial markets environment.”
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