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Rating Action:

Moody's rates AEGON's recently-acquired Merrill Lynch insurance companies Aa3

24 Jan 2008
Moody's rates AEGON's recently-acquired Merrill Lynch insurance companies Aa3

New York, January 24, 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned Aa3 insurance financial strength (IFS) ratings to Merrill Lynch Life Insurance Company (MLLIC) and ML Life Insurance Company of New York (ML-NY -- collectively, the ML companies), both of which are subsidiaries of AEGON USA, Inc. The ML companies were acquired by AEGON USA, Inc. from Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. effective December 28, 2007. The rating outlook for the ML companies is stable. AEGON USA, Inc. (whose other key subsidiaries are also rated Aa3 IFS, stable outlook) is wholly-owned indirectly by AEGON N.V. (senior debt at A2, stable outlook).

The rating agency said that the ML companies' Aa3 IFS ratings are driven by their ownership, support, and expected integration into the AEGON USA group, which, although composed of now ten rated life operating subsidiaries, is operated and managed as a single group. Financial support for the AEGON USA companies specifically includes short-term inter-company borrowing facilities among AEGON affiliates, inter-company reinsurance arrangements, as well as liquidity and funding, risk management, governance, and other benefits of their membership in a global financial services group. Moody's expects that the ML companies, which will be fully integrated into the AEGON USA group, from a products, operations, investments, and management point of view, to also enjoy these benefits over time.

Moody's also noted that the ML companies, which are primarily focused on variable annuity products with $10 billion of variable annuity account value as of 12/31/06, should add incremental scale and potential distribution to AEGON USA's existing variable annuity business. As part of the ML acquisition, AEGON USA will now have the use of Merrill Lynch's proprietary financial advisor network to distribute the ML variable annuity product, and potentially other AEGON USA products in the future. Moody's noted, however, that building substantial new sales through the Merrill Lynch financial advisor channel, which sells a broad portfolio of other providers' variable annuity products, will be challenging in the highly competitive variable annuity marketplace.

The last rating action that Moody's took on AEGON USA took place on August 16, 2007, when Moody's affirmed the group's ratings following AEGON's announcement that it had signed an agreement to acquire Merrill Lynch Life Insurance Company and ML Life Insurance Company of New York.

Merrill Lynch Life Insurance Company is headquartered in Pennington, New Jersey. At September 30, 2007 it had $14 billion of statutory assets and approximately $308 million of adjusted statutory capital. At September 30, 2007, ML Life Insurance Company of New York had statutory assets of approximately $1 billion and adjusted statutory capital of $61 million. As of September 30, 2007 and on a consolidated basis, AEGON USA had total statutory assets of about $184 billion and adjusted statutory capital of approximately $10 billion. AEGON USA is based in Baltimore, Maryland and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Moody's insurance financial strength ratings are opinions of the ability of insurance companies to repay punctually senior policyholder claims and obligation. For more information, visit our website at www.moodys.com/insurance.

New York
Robert Riegel
Managing Director
Life Insurance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Laura Bazer
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Life Insurance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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