Holden Group, a company that helps banks sell fixed and variable annuities, said its sales through banks grew 53% during the first quarter compared with the year-ago period.

The Los Angeles-based company attributed the rise in sales to a greater acceptance of annuities by the public and to the increased number of small banks that began selling investment products this year.

The company, which sold more than $110 million of annuities last year, was endorsed by the American Bankers Association in 1990 and sells annuities through 110 banks nationwide, a spokesman said.

The Holden group is owned by the London Insurance Group of Ontario, which took a majority position in the company last May.

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