Private investors can in principle simply take over Dutch insurers. That is what De Nederlandse Bank says, which must supervise the risks that can be associated with such acquisitions.

The acquisitions are receiving extra attention now that insurance company Vivat of the Chinese company Anbang is being bought by Athora, a company on Bermuda from private investors. Vivat has around 2.5 million customers in the Netherlands. DNB still has to approve that acquisition.

In an interview with Het Financieele Dagblad, Olaf Sleijpen, divisional insurer of DNB, says: "I know you have to pay attention with private equity."

Out of range?

One of the concerns is, for example, whether Dutch policies will continue to fall under Dutch supervision. A new owner may decide to place them in another European country, where supervisors are less strict.

There are general rules for insurers in the European Union, but how far they are implemented can vary from country to country. The supervision of insurers in the Netherlands is relatively strict.

"A justified concern," says Sleijpen. "I think that this type of cross-border movement can lead to pressure to opt for a European supervisory solution."

Profit

Another concern about private investors is that they often go for short-term profits. They can take risks with their investments if that returns quickly, and that is not always in the interest of policyholders looking at the long term.

Sleijpen: "It is not forbidden. But the legislation stipulates that you must keep more capital behind."

He also wants to nuance the negative image about private investors. "We don't have to make a caricature of private equity. There are bad examples, but also good ones. Our job is to prevent an insurer from being emptied."

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