One of the nation's oldest insurers has announced plans to convert to a stock-owned company.

The Mutual Life Insurance Co. of New York, a 155-year-old company, said last week it had sent ballots to policyholders and filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of common stock.

Mutual Life expects approvals this fall and plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

After approvals, and when market conditions are ripe, the company will initiate the IPO and change its name to MONY Life Insurance Co.

Mutual Life is the latest in a string of mutuals seeking to convert to stock ownership.

Of the top 25 mutual life insurance companies, more than 70% have or will convert soon, according to a recent Conning & Co. study, "Mutual Companies: A Vanishing Breed."

The study found the move to demutualization has been driven by less consumer demand for traditional risk-bearing life insurance products, management desire to improve productivity and efficiency, and the perception that merger and acquisition growth is necessary to compete globally.

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