BAT sells US life insurance firms

BAT Industries, the tobacco to financial services combine, yesterday announced the $330m (pounds 203m) sale of two of its US life insurance businesses in what was said to be a "housekeeping" exercise. Ohio State Life Insurance and Investors Guaranty Life Insurance are being sold by Farmers, BAT's main US insurance offshoot, to Americo Life, a rival US group.

A BAT spokeswoman said the deal would have no material impact on Farmers' trading profits and would allow the group's sales force to concentrate on the third of its life companies, New World Life Insurance, which is a much bigger operation. "It's housekeeping really. It's something we have been saying we have been going to dispose of for some time," she said.

Ohio State and Investors Guaranty sell a variety of life insurance throughout the country and abroad, using independent managing general agents and independent marketing organisations. The deal means Americo will have roughly 1 million live policies and more than $3.3bn assets under management.

BAT's shares dipped 6p to 495.5p yesterday.

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