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ACM clears acquisition of Aegon Nederland by a.s.r.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has cleared the acquisition of insurance company Aegon Nederland N.V. (Aegon) by rival company ASR Nederland N.V. (a.s.r.). Sufficient competition will remain on the markets where both these companies are currently active.

Both a.s.r. and Aegon sell various financial products and services, such as property and casualty insurance and income protection insurance. These are, for example, home contents insurance and disability insurance. In addition, both companies sell pension products with which employers build up supplementary pensions for their employees. ACM has investigated whether the acquisition will lead to competition problems. In its investigation, ACM had conversations with customers, intermediaries, and competitors.

Property and casualty insurance

At the moment, a.s.r. is the third largest competitor on the property and casualty insurance market in the Netherlands. They will continue to be so after the acquisition. There are many other personal property insurance providers such as Achmea, Nationale Nederlanden, and Univé. Thus, consumers will continue to have sufficient insurance providers to choose from, and they will be able to switch between providers easily.

Income protection insurance

A.s.r. is the largest competitor on the market for income protection insurance plans. As a result of the acquisition, its position will become slightly stronger. Nevertheless, sufficient competitive pressure will continue to be exerted in this market too by, in any case, Nationale Nederlanden, Achmea, and De Goudse. Most income protection insurance plans are sold through intermediaries. These intermediaries have an obligation to compare multiple providers for their customers. In that way, they also help boost the competitive pressure on providers. After the acquisition, sufficient options will remain to take out income protection insurance plans from different insurance providers.

Collective pension products

Employers can set up a pension scheme for their employees to build up a supplementary pension in addition to the Dutch General Old-Age Pensions Act (AOW). Many employers have an obligation to do so with a specific pension fund. A.s.r. and Aegon offer pension plans for employers that are not bound by this obligation. On this market, too, sufficient competitive pressure will continue to be exerted after the acquisition by, in any case, Nationale Nederlanden, Athora, and Achmea. And, intermediaries help boost competitive pressure on providers on this market as well. In the market study, no indications were found that the new pension system (the bill of which was recently passed in Dutch Parliament) will lead to a different decision on this acquisition.

ACM’s concentration control: mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures

With any merger or acquisition, there is the question of whether sufficient competition will remain on that market, right after the transaction as well as in the future. Competition ensures that products are of high quality and that they are offered on the market at competitive prices. Competition also promotes innovation. That is why ACM decides in advance whether or not companies are allowed to merge or acquire another company. ACM assesses whether the markets involved will continue to work well for people and businesses, now and in the future.

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