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TARP Funds To Be Extended to Life Insurers

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The Treasury Department has decided to give bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to several life insurance companies.

Although the department has not officially announced the decision, sources close to the story expect the announcement to come within the next few days, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The report did not cite any sources, saying only that the sources were experts familiar with the matter.

In order to qualify for the funds, an insurer must own a federally chartered bank.

Although several companies, including Prudential Financial, Lincoln National, and Hartford Financial, do own such banks and applied for TARP funds last year, the government had not given them any funds, instead focusing on other industries.

Any companies that are given funds will have access to the Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program, which injects funds into banks. The amount of money the insurers will receive, as well as which companies will be beneficiaries, is unclear at this time. The Treasury said it has about $130 billion remaining in TARP money.

As an apparent result of the announcement, the shares of several life insurance companies rose broadly on Wednesday, April 8. Lincoln National Corp. shares rose more than 34 percent, Hartford Financial Services Groups Inc. rose more than 25 percent, and Prudential Financial Inc. rose more than 8 percent.

This trend indicates that TARP funds would stabilize the life insurance industry, which has suffered severe losses over the past year. Shares of life insurers have fallen more than 40 percent this year, which led to a series of rating-agency downgrades.

Any life insurer that gets TARP funds would have to comply with the tight senior executive compensation rules required by Congress.


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