The Belgian State takes a 6.3% stake in the insurer Ageas

The Belgian State, through the Société Fédérale de Participations et d’Investissements (SFPI), has acquired a 6.3% stake in the capital of Ageas, the SFPI and the insurance group announced on Saturday. An operation which allows “to firmly anchor the company in Belgium”, according to the Minister of Finance, Vincent Van Peteghem.

It was via the SFPI, Federal Society for Participation and Investments, that this operation was carried out. SFPI is a Belgian public holding company. It manages the federal authorities’ holdings in companies and conducts its own investment policy in the interest of the Belgian economy. Fluxys, Société wallonne des Eaux, Bpost are examples of investments made by the SFPI. It is also via the SFPI that the Belgian State intervened financially in the rescue of Fortis (BNP Paribas Fortis), for example.

Now, it is on the insurer Ageas that the SFPI sets its sights. Ageas is the insurance branch saved from the sinking of the Fortis group. The group’s banking and insurance activities had been separated. After the intervention of the Belgian State in Fortis, the banking part was sold to BNP-Paribas. In 2010, the “insurance” division, considered viable, became Ageas.

“As an international insurance group, Ageas and its Belgian subsidiary AG Insurance actively support Belgian society. Ageas is delighted to see that the Belgian government recognizes, through this investment, the commitment of the group as well as the potential business for the future“, comments the company in a press release.

Minister Van Peteghem, he said that the maneuver was part of the investment strategy of the SFPI. “The financial sector is one of our six strategic investment pillars and we focus on smartly anchoring companies that are of strategic importance to the country’s economy. This allows us to position ourselves as a strategic shareholder term of Ageas and to firmly anchor the company in Belgium.”, he communicates.

On Radio 1, it was also specified that there could be a risk that the insurer could be the target of a takeover and that it was therefore very important that such a player remain anchored in the Belgian economic fabric. As to whether this participation will remain at 6%, it is a decision that is up to the board of directors of the SFPI, according to the minister. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is also satisfied that this participation can ensure the anchoring of one of the main financial players in the country, which in Belgium employs 6,700 people.

The Secretary of State for Recovery and Strategic Investments, Thomas Dermine (PS), precisely underlined the importance of a shareholding with a little more Belgian colors. “Ageas is a listed company and has a very diversified shareholding, whose main shareholders have until now been Asian. The acquisition of a stake by the Belgian State, making it possible to become the second main shareholder, will guarantee its long-term anchorage. term of the insurer in Belgium and gives us the best chance of influencing the strategic decisions of the group’s future.”, said Minister Dermine.

The company will issue another press release after receiving the official transparency notification.

Until now, the Chinese Ping An Insurance, already present during the Fortis era, held more than 5% of Ageas and the Chinese conglomerate Fosun, 10%.

In a decade, Ageas has grown into an international insurance group present in Europe and Asia with approximately 45,000 employees.

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