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Sun Life Sheds Light on Pending Sale

Zacks Equity Research

Sun Life Financial Inc. ( SLF) recently provided an update on the previously announced transaction to sell some of its U.S. Life Insurance business and U.S. annuities business to Delaware Life Holdings, LLC. 


The agreement was announced last December. The sellout was scheduled to close in the second quarter of 2013, subject to receipt of customary regulatory approvals.


This strategic step was taken by the company to reduce equity market and interest rate exposure, thereby limiting earnings volatility to involuntary forces. 


As per the latest reports, the deal has received approvals from a number of regulatory bodies. The Delaware Department of Insurance and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority have also given their consent for the sellout.


Currently the matter is being reviewed by the New York Department of Financial Services. If this regulatory body takes more than average time to give its nod, the transaction will automatically get delayed.    


Sun Life decided to offload the variable annuities and Individual Life Insurance in the U.S. to unlock capital tied to this runoff business. The capital can be deployed somewhere else to generate a higher return on equity. The sale will significantly reduce the risks faced by the company. 


Sun Life would rather shift its focus toward products that require lower capital and generate more predictable earnings such as mutual funds and group benefits. These include voluntary benefits where the company is targeting to earn a place amongst the top five players.


The company is transforming its U.S. business to leverage its top position in Group Benefits by investing in the voluntary benefits business. 


Sun Life carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).


Other players StanCorp Financial Group Inc. ( SFG), Protective Life Corp. ( PL) and China Life Insurance Co. ( LFC) also have an active presence in the U.S life insurance market.

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