The board of CNO Financial Group Inc. has approved a program that could buy back up to $100 million in CNO common shares over the next 2 years.

Shares of CNO, Carmel, Ind. (NYSE:CNO), have been selling for about $5 to $8.50 per share over the past 52 weeks.

CNO could buy shares either in the open market or through private transactions, the company says.

“The amount and timing of the share repurchases (if any) will be based on business Securitiesand market conditions and other factors,” CNO says.

CNO ended March with about 251 million shares of stock outstanding. At current prices, the CNO buyback program could be big enough to lead to the repurchase of about 5% of the company’s stock.

The provisions of a CNO senior credit facility call for CNO to pay the facility lenders an amount equal to “the cost of any shares purchased under the share repurchase program if the company’s debt to total capitalization ratio is greater than 17.5%,” CNO Chief Executive James Prieur says in a statement.

CNO ended March with a debt-to-total-capitalization ratio of 19.2%.

- Allison Bell

Other CNO coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: