Aegon's aim to be a leader in all of its chosen markets by 2015 is supported by four strategic objectives: Optimize Portfolio, Enhance Customer Loyalty, Deliver Operational Excellence and Empower Employees. These key objectives have been embedded in all Aegon businesses. They provide the strategic framework for the company's ambition to become the most-recommended life insurance and pension provider by customers and intermediaries, as well as the most-preferred employer in the sector.
Continued economic uncertainty has increased the opportunities for Aegon in pursuing its clear purpose of helping people take responsibility for their financial future. To capture these opportunities, Aegon will accelerate the development of new business models by investing in innovative, technology-driven distribution channels, to connect better and more frequently with customers, improve service levels and increase retention rates. Aegon's accelerated investments in technology will also better support intermediaries adapt to the changing distribution environment.
In recent years, Aegon has implemented a broad restructuring program to sharpen its focus on its core lines of business, significantly reduce its overall cost base, and create greater efficiencies across the organization. This has resulted in a better balance between spread-based and fee-generating business, a substantially improved risk-return profile, the divestment of non-core businesses, a lower cost base, and an improved capital base ratio.
Optimize portfolioAt the end of September, Aegon launched a new online bank in the Netherlands, called "Knab". This innovative new platform gives customers increased insight into their financial situation and uses state-of-the-art technology to provide easier lifetime financial planning. Knab also allows the company to interact with customers in real-time and to use client feedback to ensure that all offered solutions meet customer needs. In the United Kingdom, to capture opportunities in the At-Retirement market, Aegon launched its new platform proposition called "Aegon Retirement Choices" in November 2011. The company recently added its Workplace Savings proposition to the platform with the unique feature of allowing customers to remain on the platform as an individual customer throughout retirement. Pension reform and the Retail Distribution Review will transform pension products and services and how they are distributed. Aegon's platform offers a compelling solution to advisers, employers, and their employees. Positive market response has helped the company secure a number of strategic distribution agreements, reaffirming Aegon's leading role in the pensions and At-Retirement market. On October 1, 2012, Aegon Asset Management closed the transaction to sell its minority stake in Prisma Capital Partners, a provider of hedge fund solutions, to KKR for a total consideration of EUR 100 million. Prisma's contribution to underlying earnings totaled EUR 8 million for the first nine months of 2012. Aegon expects that the consolidation of Spanish savings banks will lead to exiting one or more of its joint ventures in Spain. Following the announced merger between Banca Cívica and CaixaBank, Aegon reached an agreement to end the life, health and pension partnership with Banca Cívica and to sell its 50% interest in the joint venture to CaixaBank for a total consideration of EUR 190 million. The transaction was closed on October 11, 2012 and will result in a book gain of EUR 35 million before tax which will be accounted for in the fourth quarter of 2012. Aegon's share in underlying earnings before tax of the joint venture totaled EUR 13 million for the first nine months of 2012. Deliver operational excellence