Aegon fuels rumours it may bid for Equitable

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The Independent Online

Aegon fuelled speculation it could table a bid for Equitable Life, the UK's second largest life insurer, yesterday after it admitted it was on the look out for more acquisitions.

Aegon fuelled speculation it could table a bid for Equitable Life, the UK's second largest life insurer, yesterday after it admitted it was on the look out for more acquisitions.

The Dutch insurance giant, which owns Scottish Equitable and last year bought the life operation of Guardian Royal Exchange, said further UK acquisitions were likely to form part of itsstrategy.

Pre-tax profits in Aegon's UK business surged by 94 per cent in six months to the end of June, boosted by £43m of business from Guardian. The group said it wanted to work on organic growth. But David Henderson, chief executive of Aegon UK, added: "Opportunities also arise where we can benefit by expanding the scope or scale of our operation."

Ned Cazalet, an independent insurance analyst, said: "Aegon is certainly credible and will look at the Equitable's £3bn which it has under management very carefully. But it depends on the price."

Equitable is expected to send out a memorandum shortly to those who have expressed a serious interest. This will be followed up by formal offers from bidders.

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