MassMutual to Buy American Financial Annuity Unit

The $3.5 billion deal came a day after Allstate said it would sell its life insurance business to private-equity giant Blackstone for $2.8 billion.
Matthew HellerJanuary 28, 2021

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance said Wednesday it had agreed to acquire American Financial Group’s annuity business for $3.5 billion in a move to expand its product offerings.

The announcement of MassMutual’s acquisition of Great American Life Insurance came a day after Allstate said it would sell its life insurance unit to private-equity giant Blackstone for $2.8 billion.

The transactions are among “many over a decade of frenzied industrywide activity, as insurers have been narrowing their focus and divesting product lines, much of it motivated by the low interest-rate environment,” The Wall Street Journal said. “Insurers invest customers’ premiums until needed to pay claims, so low rates make many products challenging to profitably sell.”

MassMutual CEO Roger Crandall said Great American Life would be “an excellent strategic fit … that will broaden our product offerings, expand our distribution, and generate additional earnings.”

The fixed and indexed annuities sold by American Financial are roughly similar to bank certificates of deposit.

“The combined annuity sales from the transaction will improve MassMutual’s market share to a top-three ranking in the fixed annuity marketplace, and offers MassMutual the opportunity to cross-sell its existing products in the newly acquired channels,” AM Best said.

Allstate’s deal with Blackstone, meanwhile, continues the trend of financial firms buying up life insurance and annuities businesses. Last week, Sixth Street Partners announced a deal to buy life insurance firm Talcott Resolution for $2 billion.

“We believe our team’s extensive experience in the insurance sector and world-class asset origination capabilities will deliver significant benefits to policyholders and investors over the long term,” Gilles Dellaert, global head of Blackstone Insurance Solutions, said in a news release.

Allstate said the life insurance unit had a net loss of $23 million in the first nine months of 2020.

“Allstate is deploying capital out of lower growth and return businesses while continuing to execute our strategy to grow market share in personal property-liability and expand protection solutions for customers,” CEO Tom Wilson said in a news release.

The deal does not include Allstate Life Insurance Co. of New York.

4 Powerful Communication Strategies for Your Next Board Meeting