NU Online News Service, Feb. 1, 2005, 1:07 p.m. EST

A leader in the U.S. and Japanese variable annuity markets has announced plans to sell similar products in Europe.[@@]

The company, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, is setting up a new U.K. subsidiary, Hartford Life Ltd., Dublin, that will start by selling “unit-linked” bonds in the United Kingdom.

Unit-linked bonds are similar to the variable annuities sold in the United States.

Hartford Financial says it also plans to sell retirement savings products in other European markets.

The new subsidiary, Hartford Life Ltd., has hired 95 people to set up U.K. marketing and service offices. In addition to the headquarters office in Dublin, the subsidiary has a sales and marketing branch in London.

The United Kingdom is a particularly attractive market because its public pension system is having problems and it accounts for about 12% of the world’s life insurance and pension markets, according to Hartford Financial.

Hartford Financial is already the top seller of variable annuities in the United States and Japan, and it also sells retirement savings products in Brazil.