NU Online News Service, June 18, 2004, 5:28 p.m. EDT

Citizens Inc., Austin, Texas, has agreed to pay $85 million in cash for a small life insurance company.[@@]

Citizens is a publicly traded holding company that is trying to build a life insurance operation with more than $1 billion in assets by 2010.

The target of the deal, Security Plan Life Insurance Company, Donaldsonville, La., is a subsidiary of Mayflower National Life Insurance Company, New Orleans. Mayflower, in turn, is a subsidiary of Alderwoods Group Inc., Cincinnati, an operator of cemeteries and funeral homes that was launched in January 2002.

Alderwoods bills itself as the second biggest funeral home and cemetery operator in the United States, and Mayflower and its affiliates manage a total of $444 million in statutory admitted assets, according to Alderwoods.

Security Plan Life has focused on selling life policies with a small face value in Louisiana and Mississippi. Mayflower is selling Security Plan Life because Alderwoods has decided that the unit is now a non-strategic asset, Alderwoods says.

Mayflower hopes to complete the deal by selling its Security Plan Life stock to Citizens’ Citizens Insurance Company of America unit by October, Alderwoods says.