Underlying earnings before tax
Aegon's underlying earnings before tax increased 31% to EUR 472 million in the third quarter of 2012. This is the result of business growth, a strong delivery on cost reduction programs, favorable markets and currency movements. Earnings included a positive effect of EUR 17 million, as one-time provision releases of EUR 39 million were partly offset by the negative effect of customer behavior assumption updates of EUR 22 million.
Underlying earnings from the Americas rose to EUR 344 million. The 12% increase compared to the third quarter of 2011 is due to underlying growth in the business, and a strengthening of the US dollar against the euro offset by the non-recurrence of favorable items last year. Earnings in the third quarter also included a one-time benefit from changes in post-retirement benefit plans of EUR 27 million, while the net negative impact of assumption changes amounted to EUR 29 million.
In the Netherlands, underlying earnings increased 21% to EUR 82 million. This increase was mainly the result of higher earnings in Life & Savings which included a one-time provision release of EUR 8 million, partly offset by lower margins in Pensions and Non-life.In the United Kingdom, underlying earnings increased to EUR 26 million. This strong improvement in earnings compared to the same period last year, was driven by the non-recurrence of extraordinary charges and the successful implementation of the cost reduction program. Earnings were negatively impacted by adverse persistency and investments in new propositions in the pension business. It is expected that this will continue in coming quarters. Underlying earnings from New Markets increased 52% to EUR 70 million. Higher results of Aegon Asset Management, as well as from Asia and Central & Eastern Europe were partly offset by lower underlying earnings from Spain and Variable Annuities Europe. Total holding costs decreased 28% to EUR 50 million as a result of Aegon's Corporate Center expenses being charged, in part, to operating units as of the first quarter 2012. These charges reflect the services and support provided to operating units by the Corporate Center. Charges to operating units in the third quarter of 2012 amounted to EUR 16 million. Net income