NU Online News Service, Jan. 11, 3:15 p.m. – Despite a drop in M&A activity among financial services last year, 2001 yielded the most expensive insurance deal in insurance industry history, a multi-billion-dollar milestone that was passed not once but twice, notes SNL Securities, Charlottesville, Va. British insurer Prudential Plc offered $24.6 billion for Houston-based American General Corp. But then New York heavyweight American International Group Inc. weighed in with a $23.4 billion offer–and won.

In the insurance sector overall, 2001 was similar to 2000, with both deal volume and deal value down for the third consecutive year. With the AIG-American General megadeal subtracted, total insurance industry deal value for dipped 28% to $16.4 billion, and the number of deals slipped 17% to 258, reports SNL.

There were 43 life and health deals in 2001, compared to 51 for the preceding year. The sector’s dollar value rose in 2001, propelled by the AIG-American General deal, to $34 billion, a 160% increase over 2000′s $13.1 billion. With the megadeal subtracted, however, the sector’s deal value declined by 19%, totaling only $10.6 billion.