BRE Bank has signed an agreement to merge PTE Skarbiec-Emerytura with Aegon’s PTE Ergo Hestia. Under the agreement, BRE Bank has granted Aegon an option to acquire BRE Bank's shareholding in the combined pension fund, once the merger process is complete. The purchase price has been set at PLN 385m (with an option to modify it, based on the number of members at the time of the merger), increased by the net current asset value of PTE Skarbiec-Emerytura, the exact amount of which will be determined at the time of the merger of the companies. The transaction is a subject to the regulatory approval by both the Financial Supervision Commission and the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. This agreement can be terminated at June 30th, 2008.
Our view: The long overdue transaction came as no surprise as BRE Bank had entered into exclusive negotiations with Aegon at the end of May and had targeted end of June as finalisation date. The transaction still is at risk of obtaining regulatory approval. Despite the operations lack of scale (PTE Ergo Hestia had AUM of 2.97bn and 2.2% market share in assets at the end of May 2007, while PTE Skarbiec-Emerytura had AUM of PLN 3.41bn and 2.5% market share in assets in the same period), Aegon may have difficulties to get approval from the Financial Supervision Commission as it was the case previously when the Insurance and Pension Funds Supervisory Commission did not allow PTE PZU to merge with PTE Skarbiec (due to the market concentration issues).
So far it seemed the only way to exit the business is to find another buyer that is not already present on the Polish pension fund market. In line with the management comments the price came above the book value (PLN 315m) with a pre-tax capital gain of some PLN 70m compared to our expectations of PLN 50m. We may need to revise slightly upwards our expectations, depending on the final results of the pension fund. We have also factored in PLN 75m (compared to management guidance of PLN 70m-PLN 80m) of tax shield on this latest sale of assets. We expect the news to have a mildly positive impact on the stock price today.