Aegon, Allianz and NN Group are investing billions in controversial weapons suppliers

09 December 2020

The Netherlands Fair Insurance Guide reports that Aegon, Nationale Nederlanden and Allianz are still investing billions in controversial arms trade. The latest research into the investments of the nine largest insurers in the Netherlands found links to the 14 largest companies supplying weapons to 49 countries currently in armed conflict or seriously violating human rights. Supplying arms to such countries is at odds with an EU directive and a UN treaty, stating that no weapons must be supplied if there is a risk they will be used in war or for human rights violations. No investments in these companies were found at insurers ASR, CZ, Menzis and VGZ.

Aegon, Allianz and NN Group profiting from war

Insurers invest more than 5 billion euros in companies that supply weapons to warring parties in conflict areas such as Yemen, and to Saudi Arabia, which has conducted air raids on Yemen. The fighting in Yemen has killed more than 112,000 people since 2015, often in air raids. 

By far the largest investor is Allianz. This German insurer, with 1.3 million customers in the Netherlands, invested 3.8 billion euros in all fourteen arms companies. For example, more than a billion in General Electric, which powers and maintains Saudi fighter jets. 

Aegon invests nearly 1.1 billion in almost the same companies. For example, the Dutch insurer is investing 250 million in Lockheed Martin, which has supplied Saudi Arabia with attack helicopters and missiles in recent years. NN Group is investing just over 100 million euros in six companies. Achmea and Vivat (known from brands such as Zwitserleven and Reaal) invest relatively small amounts in one of the companies studied.

Who are doing well?

ASR, CZ, Menzis and VGZ do not invest in arms companies, according to the research. CZ, Menzis and VGZ, however, do not have any policy on arms trade. Such a policy is important to prevent them from investing in the wrong arms companies in the future. ASR has very good policy on this issue.

Investments continue despite Responsible Investment Covenant

Research by the Fair Insurance Guide back in 2015 also showed that insurers invested in arms companies, but since then little or nothing has improved at Allianz, Aegon and NN Group. This is despite parliamentary questions after the 2015 report and a covenant on responsible investment that the insurers and the Dutch government concluded in 2019. Achmea and Vivat did improve their investment policy on weapons.

What was researched?

The research focuses on the fourteen largest companies that supply weapons to 49 countries that are now in armed conflict or that seriously violate human rights. Supplying arms to such countries is at odds with an EU directive and a UN treaty. It states that no weapons must be supplied if there is a risk that they will be used in war or for human rights violations.

Despite this, there are companies that supply weapons to countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Pakistan or Chad. Due to the war in Yemen, the Dutch government almost completely limited arms exports to Saudi Arabia in 2016, and those to the UAE at the end of 2018. The insurers therefore nevertheless invest in arms companies in other countries that do supply weapons to these countries. In this way they ultimately profit from war.

Read the complete report (in English) here