NU Online News Service, Nov. 18, 2004, 12:08 p.m. EST

Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Lansing, Mich., has agreed to buy Life Insurance Company of Georgia for $254 million.[@@]

The seller is ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam, which acquired Life of Georgia in 1979.

Life of Georgia, Atlanta, was founded in 1891 and now specializes in selling life insurance and other products to middle-income consumers through a network of 380 producers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

ING signaled that Life of Georgia might be expendable earlier this year, when it left the company out of a move to merge several other major U.S. life subsidiaries.

Jackson National has been best known in the United States as a seller of annuities but recently has been trying to boost life insurance sales. The company, a unit of Prudential P.L.C., London, reported $323 million in net income for 2003 on $3 billion in revenue.

Moody’s Investors Service, New York, reacted to the announcement of the deal by placing the A3 insurance financial strength rating it has awarded Life of Georgia on review for possible upgrade.

Moody’s current Life of Georgia rating “reflects the rating agency’s belief that Life of Georgia is not a core holding for ING,” the rating agency says.

Because Moody’s analysts believed that Life of Georgia was on its own, they rated it as if it were a stand-alone company, Moody’s says.

When reviewing the implications of the Jackson National deal, Moody’s will look at any extra support that Jackson National might provide as well as chances that the deal might help Jackson National and Life of Georgia strengthen their operations, the rating agency says.