SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company Inc., New York, is looking at ways to tap Wall Street to finance national expansion efforts.[@@]

The mutual life insurer announced today that it has hired Credit Suisse First Boston, New York, to “provide strategic financial advice.” Companies often hire strategic advisors to help them acquire other companies, sell their operations or raise money from investors.

Dave Walsh, SBLI USA’s general counsel, says his company has always been looking for good acquisition opportunities, even before it retained Credit Suisse.

As for selling, “we’re not interested in selling,” Walsh says.

Does that mean SBLI USA wants to go public?

“Everything is under consideration,” Walsh says.

SBLI USA has hired Credit Suisse because “we want to talk through all the options,” Walsh says.

Investment bankers get the most attention when they help privately held companies go public through initial public offerings. Other options include issuing bonds, securitizing assets and selling blocks of business to other insurers.

SBLI USA is an offshoot of the Savings Banks Life Insurance system, a nonprofit life insurance network that was formed in 1939. Executives reorganized the system in 2000 to create SBLI USA.

Before 2000, the company sold life insurance and other products only through community banks in New York state. Since 2000, SBLI USA has been selling insurance through direct marketing, telesales, Web systems and other channels outside New York, the company says.

Sales have been growing about 30% per year, and revenue now amounts to about $200 million per year, company executives say.