Bloomberg News

BOMBAY - The British insurance companies Prudential PLC and Standard Life Insurance Co. have become the first foreign insurers in 44 years to sell life insurance policies in India.

Each sold a policy Monday through a joint venture with a local lender - Standard Life with Housing Development Financial Corp. and Prudential PLC with ICICI Ltd. Full-fledged commercial operations are to begin in a few weeks.

Monday's sales marked the end of government monopoly over life insurance, which since 1956 has been the preserve of the state-run Life Insurance Corporation of India.

Other foreign insurers that have been issued licenses to sell insurance in joint ventures with local companies include New York Life, Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Co., and Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Group.

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