UPDATE 1-Transamerica owner Aegon's Q4 earnings helped by better claims, strong dollar

(Updates with details)

AMSTERDAM, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Insurer Aegon NV on Thursday reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter operating profit of 488 million euros ($524 million), as improved claims and a stronger dollar offset challenges from adverse market conditions.

Most of The Hague, Netherlands-headquartered Aegon’s business is in the United States, where it operates under the Transamerica brand.

Analysts had seen operating profit at 436 million euros, according to a company-compiled poll, versus 470 million euros in the same period a year earlier.

CEO Lard Friese said the increase came as “improved claims experience, the benefit from our operational improvement program and strengthening of the US dollar more than offset adverse market conditions” including lower fees.

The company reported a large net loss for the quarter of 2.4 billion as it reclassified its Dutch business as “held for sale” in light of the $4.9 billion deal to sell it to ASR announced in October.

Aegon is receiving 2.5 billion in cash and a 29.99% stake in ASR as part of the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of 2023.

Aegon also announced a 200 million euros share buy-back in the first half of 2023 “barring unforeseen circumstances.” ($1 = 0.9316 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Nivedita Bhattacharjee)