Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Shock Veto of $1 Billion Aegon Deal Sparks Dutch Outcry

  • Hungary cited national security to halt sale of Aegon unit
  • Budapest-based insurer Cig is among potential suitors
Updated on

The Dutch government has raised concerns with Hungarian officials after a decision in Budapest to block the sale of Aegon NV’s local unit to Vienna Insurance Group AG, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The issue was communicated through diplomatic channels, the people said, asking not to be identified to discuss confidential proceedings. Both Dutch and Hungarian authorities declined to comment, as did Aegon. Vienna Insurance said it was still in talks with Hungary’s Finance Ministry but declined to elaborate.

Hungary this month refused to approve the key part of an 830 million-euro ($1 billion) sale of Aegon’s central and eastern European operations to Vienna Insurance. While governments across Europe routinely block deals to prevent market monopolies, save jobs or for national-security reasons, the Orban administration’s intervention raised concern because it didn’t seem to match those categories.

Instead, it fits into Hungary’s strategy of creating corporate national champions, including in the financial industry where the merger of three banks is under way. The government has also recently accelerated efforts to reshape the economy with moves such as shifting assets to foundations with close ties to the ruling party.