Dutch insurance group Aegon exceeded market forecasts after posting a 21% rise in net profit in its full year 2005 results.

Significant contributions to the group’s strong performance were made by tax related gains and increases in new life sales in the Netherlands, UK and US. The group reported a net profit rise to E2.73 billion ($3.25 billion) from E2.26 billion in 2004.

The group saw its strongest US performance in the reinsurance area, where it saw a 46% rise in business. Aegon UK also looked to have had a good year seeing its highest sales performance ever in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Commenting on the group’s results, Don Shepard, chairman of the executive board, said: During 2005, we made good progress in strengthening Aegon’s position in our three major markets. In addition, we continued to invest in Central and Eastern Europe, Spain and Asia, where we see good growth prospects. We have taken a number of steps to improve the operations of our businesses as well as enhance Aegon’s strategic position in the life insurance and pension sectors.

He continued, We are pleased to report increased earnings from all major country units for the year, enhanced distribution and a stronger balance sheet. We believe that Aegon is well-positioned to deliver the products and services that will lead to the continued growth of our business.