Great-West to buy U.S. retirement plan business

Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:42pm EST

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(Figures in U.S. dollars unless noted)

TORONTO Nov 30 (Reuters) - Great-West Lifeco Inc (GWO.TO) said on Thursday that its U.S. insurance unit will buy the 401(k) defined-contribution retirement plan business from a unit of U.S. Bancorp (USB.N), as it strives to become a top player among U.S. retirement plan providers.

Great-West said its Denver-based Great West Life & Annuity Insurance Co. subsidiary will acquire nearly 195,000 plan participants and more than $9 billion in retirement plan assets from U.S. Bank Institutional Trust & Custody, and will keep the U.S. Bank staff.

With the transaction, Great-West said it will provide products and services to about 21,000 retirement plans, representing nearly 3.5 million participants in the United States and more than $104 billion in assets.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in late December, U.S. Bank said in a separate press release.

The sale of the retirement business will allow U.S. Bank to focus on businesses where it has significant scale or growth opportunities, it said, noting that 2 million to 3 million plan participants are needed in that business.

It marks the second U.S. retirement plan deal for Great West in recent months. In early October, it bought several parts of Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.'s small and midsize 401(k) and some defined-benefit plan business, adding about 300,000 participants and $7.5 billion in plan assets in that deal.

Great-West is majority owned by Montreal-based Power Financial Corp. (PWF.TO).

($1=$1.14 Canadian)

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