Fortis Financial Group has snared a senior executive from the Colonial Group to oversee expansion into banks, thrifts, and independent brokerages.

Larry A. Medin, 45, joined the St. Paul-based mutual fund and annuity company this month as senior vice president of sales. At Boston-based Colonial, a large seller of mutual funds through banks, he was senior vice president in charge of wholesalers in the west.

Mr. Medin, who returned to his home state of Minnesota to take the job, said he will spend the next several years building a sales team to market products to new outlets that Fortis wants to crack, such as banks.

Right now, the company, which is jointly owned by Fortis AMEV of the Netherlands and Fortis AG of Belgium, distributes products primarily through its own brokers.

Mr. Medin will report to Dean C. Kopperud, who was elevated in January to the positions of president and chief executive of the American unit when longtime chief Edward Mahoney retired.

The appointment of Mr. Medin reflects the company's commitment to alternative distribution channels, Mr. Kopperud said.

Mr. Medin will help Fortis "meet ambitious goals for sales and assets under management," Mr. Kopperud said.

Fortis has also restructured the sales fees for its mutual funds and annuities to meet customers' needs.

Customers now have the option of paying for Fortis mutual funds through annual sales charges or a one-time fee when they cash out. The choices, known in industry jargon as level loads and back-end loads, are alternatives to up-front sales fees the funds have traditionally carried.

Fortis also tapped outside money managers to oversee three international funds the company is adding to its variable annuities and variable universal life products. Lazard Freres, Warburg International, and Morgan Stanley Asset Management will oversee the stock, bond, and asset allocation products, respectively.

With the additions, the annuities and life products now offer 13 investment options, 10 of which are overseen by Fortis' own money managers.

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