Aegon staff braced for job cuts in UK overhaul

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Aegon revealed plans to axe two businesses and warned of further job cuts under a sweeping overhaul of its UK arm yesterday.

The life and pensions group is to close its third-party pensions administration division, which is based in Daresbury in Cheshire and employs 82 people. It will also shut the group's London-based employee benefit software division in a move affecting seven staff.

There are expected to be more widespread job losses among its 4,000 UK employees as part of previously announced plans to slash costs by 25 per cent. Aegon said it was unable to confirm the number of job cuts while talks were ongoing with trade unions.

Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer, said: "It will be a mistake for Aegon to make any attempt to try to achieve these huge cost savings at the expense of their workforce."

He added: "If there is to be any reduction in employees, Unite will be pressing for a voluntary redundancy register to be opened, early retirement opportunities and the option for flexible working in order to mitigate the number of redundancies."

The Dutch-based Aegon has already announced 142 redundancies among its UK sales staff, saying earlier this month that it was shutting sales centres in locations including Edinburgh, Leeds and Watford.

The group yesterday braced staff for a "broad range" of cost-cutting measures as it seeks to refocus the business and pull out of unprofitable areas to trim annual UK costs by about £80m. Aegon's UK managers will also suffer, with a streamlined organisational structure expected to see the loss of a number of senior management roles by the end of 2011.

Aegon had considered selling the UK business, but said earlier this year that a sale did not offer the best value for shareholders.