UTRECHT, Netherlands - Fortis, the international insurance, banking, and investment group, announced Thursday that it has agreed to buy American Memorial Life Insurance Co. of Rapid City, S.D., for $200 million of cash.

American Memorial is part of Service Corporation International. Fortis' New York subsidiary, Fortis Inc., is to enter a multiyear marketing agreement with Service Corporation that would permit the sale of prearranged funeral contracts exclusively through funeral homes owned by or affiliated with the seller. The deal requires regulatory approval and is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Preneed funeral insurance allows individuals to prepay for a funeral in a single payment or in multiple payments over a number of years. The policy increases in value over time.

American Memorial Life would stay in Rapid City and retain its current management.

Fortis had assets of more than $400 billion in 1999.

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