NU Online News Service, July 23, 2004, 11:19 a.m. EDT

Safeco Corp., Seattle, has received approval from Washington state regulators to sell its life insurance and investments business to an investor group that includes Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Omaha.[@@]

The $1.35 billion deal includes the Safeco Life Insurance Company and Safeco National Life Insurance Company units.

The investor group has formed a holding company, Occum Acquisition Corp., to buy the units, which are based in Seattle. In addition to Berkshire Hathaway, Occum principals include White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda.

The acquisition agreement calls for Occum to keep Safeco Life’s 1,500 employees in Washington, according to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

Safeco and Occum hope to complete the deal by July 31.