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Prudential (PRU) to Sell Variable Annuity to Fortitude Re

Prudential Financial, Inc. PRU has inked a deal with Fortitude Group Holdings, LLC to sell a portion of its in-force legacy variable annuity block to Fortitude Re. The total transaction value of the deal stands at $2.2 billion. The transaction, following the fulfilment of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, is projected to close by the first half of 2022.

Per the deal, a section of Prudential’s legal entity subsidiaries, Prudential Annuities Life Assurance Corporation (PALAC), which includes its in-force annuity contracts will be divested to Fortitude Re. It will be sold at a purchase price of $1.5 billion along with a capital release to Prudential as well as an expected tax benefit. The proceeds from the transaction are intended to be utilized for general corporate purposes.

The PALAC block amounted to nearly $31 billion or 17% of Prudential’s total in-force individual annuity account values as of Jun 30, 2021.

This move is intended to limit the exposure to traditional variable annuities with guaranteed living benefits and capital markets sensitivity. In the long run, Prudential will be well-poised to deliver new investment strategies like FlexGuard, and focus on creating the next generation of protected income solutions.

FlexGuard is the most successful launch in indexed variable annuity history and is issued by PALAC. This product shares the common features of boosting retirement income and offering protection to the assets of customers amid any market downturns. Besides, the product is equipped with an innovative buffered income benefit, which is connected with market performance. Following the recent divestiture, Prudential will hold back its interest in all FlexGuard buffered annuity contracts and will continue to sell new FlexGuard and other protected outcome solutions through additional existing subsidiaries.

The recent transaction with Fortitude Re will enable Prudential to become a high-growth, less market-sensitive company. It will benefit Prudential’s customers and investors as well as provide more growth opportunities for its businesses.

Prudential estimates pre-tax annual adjusted operating income to reduce by about $290 million upon divestiture.

As far as Fortitude Re is concerned, the acquisition of PALAC will boost its competence in furnishing value-enhancing solutions to their clients as well as provide strategic opportunities for growth.

Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) multi-line insurer have gained 51.6% in a year’s time, outperforming the industry’s increase of 40.1%. Strong fundamentals are likely to help the stock keep the momentum alive going forward.

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Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the insurance sector include MetLife, Inc. MET, Horace Mann Educators Corporation HMN, and CNO Financial Group, Inc. CNO, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

MetLife surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average beat being 33.35%.

Horace Mann Educators surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average beat being 21.12%.

CNO Financial surpassed earnings estimates in three of the last four quarters and missed in one, the average being 26.12%.

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