Hartford to Sell U.K. Variable Annuity Business to Berkshire

By Steve Dickson | June 27, 2013

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. agreed to sell its U.K. variable-annuity business to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for about $285 million in cash.

Hartford Life International Ltd., which was sold to Berkshire’s Columbia Insurance Co. unit, had $1.75 billion in assets under management as of March 31, the Hartford, Connecticut-based company said today in a statement. The transaction will result in a loss for Hartford of about $110 million in the second quarter, the company said.

Chief Executive Officer Liam McGee, 58, has sold a life insurer to Prudential Financial Inc. and divested a broker- dealer as he focuses on property-casualty coverage. He also used hedges to guard against currency fluctuations and stock-market declines on annuities issued in prior years after the company retreated from the market.

Hartford has made “significant progress” reducing the size of its variable-annuity business unit, which is “now self- sufficient from a capital perspective,” Christopher Swift, Hartford’s chief financial officer, said in the statement. “Selling the U.K. business is another meaningful step forward.”

Hartford said yesterday it would boost its plan for buybacks and increase its dividend 50 percent.

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