EU OKs Aegon's purchase of Transamerica Corp.

U.S. antitrust regulators are now final hurdles

June 10, 1999|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

European regulators approved the purchase of Transamerica Corp. by Netherlands-based insurance giant Aegon NV yesterday, keeping the takeover on track for a July completion after it clears regulatory hurdles in the United States.

The executive agency of the European Union approved the purchase during a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, releasing a statement saying the deal "does not create or strengthen a dominant position" and thus is not a threat to fair competition in European markets.

"It's really just one step on the long track left to go," said Mary Voeten, a spokeswoman at Aegon's headquarters in The Hague. "Most of the things that have to be decided are in the U.S."

Aegon, whose Aegon USA headquarters is in Baltimore, agreed in February to buy San Francisco-based Transamerica for $10.8 billion. The acquisition needs the approval of antitrust regulators in the United States.

The company would move its U.S. headquarters to California, but few, if any, of the 800 jobs based in Baltimore would be expected to be affected.

The acquisition would create the third-largest life insurance company in the United States and give Aegon a well-known, 70-year-old brand name.

Aegon, which sells investment and insurance products throughout the world, operates its Monumental Division and Aegon Special Markets Group in Baltimore.

Transamerica, with its signature pyramid-shaped headquarters in San Francisco, has about 17,000 agents around the country and reported $472 million in profit in 1998.

Donald J. Shepard, the Baltimore-based chief executive officer of Aegon USA, was traveling and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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