Hartford (Conn.) Financial Services Group Inc. is looking to pull ownership of its Hartford Life Inc. unit in-house. On Friday, the company announced plans to buy the 18.5% of Hartford Life, of Simsbury, Conn., that it does not already own.

Hartford Financial said it would pay $44 per share in cash, which would be an 8.6% premium over Hartford Life's closing price of $40.50 on March 27, the day the offer was made.

Hartford Life is the largest seller of variable annuities through banks, according to a recent study by Kenneth Kehrer Associates of Princeton, N.J. It took in $4 billion in variable annuity premiums from sales through that channel last year.

Ramani Ayer, chairman and chief executive of Hartford Financial, said in a statement that the offer is part of the company's plan to restructure into two operating entities, worldwide life operations and worldwide property/casualty operations. A special committee of Hartford Life directors not affiliated with Hartford Financial has been appointed to consider the offer.

- Cheryl Winokur

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