First Union Corp. has hired a former Norwest Corp. insurance executive to manage its expanding annuity business.

Martin Rasmussen joined the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking company's insurance group last week as vice president in charge of annuity product development and management.

Mr. Rasmussen also handles annuity marketing, systems, and compliance. He reports to David de Gorter, senior vice president and managing director of First Union's insurance group.

First Union's annuity program has grown significantly since last year when regulators gave the company the green light to sell the product.

Through the end of May, First Union had booked annuity premiums of $322 million, Mr. de Gorter said. And he added that it was on track to sell at least $631 million by yearend.

"Our goal is to be the leading provider of annuity products in the U.S.," Mr. de Gorter said.

Mr. Rasmussen was a vice president in charge of product and new business development at Norwest Insurance Inc., Minneapolis. Mr. de Gorter stressed that at First Union, Mr. Rasmussen will focus exclusively on expanding sales of annuities. He will also develop alternative distribution channels for annuities.

Prior to working at Norwest, Mr. Rasmussen held sales manager positions at Prudential Insurance Co. and the Lutheran Brotherhood Insurance Co.

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