NU Online News Service, Jan. 11, 2005, 4:55 p.m. EST

A mutual fund data giant is paying about $9 million for a leading source of variable annuity data.[@@]

The fund data company, Morningstar Inc., says it bought the Variable Annuity Research and Data Service, Atlanta, from Finetre Corp., Herndon, Va., Friday.

The final price Morningstar pays for VARDS is “subject to an adjustment for working capital,” Morningstar says.

Finetre and Morningstar will together to feed VARDS data into Finetre’s Web-based AnnuityNet annuity sales system, the companies say. The AnnuityNet system now processes about 10,000 annuity applications and deposit transactions each month, according to Finetre.

VARDS was founded in 1988 and went through a series of acquisitions. Finetre bought it in 2003 from Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, N.C.

Selling VARDS will help Finetre raise the capital it needs to invest in the AnnuityNet business, according to Finetre Chief Executive Shane Chalke.

“Finetre’s core business of annuity transaction processing and compliance automation is experiencing very rapid growth,” Chalke says in a statement about the Morningstar deal.