John E. Arant 3d is out as chief sales officer at Keyport Life Insurance, his successor confirmed.

Mr. Arant's last day on the job was Nov. 28, said Mark Tully, who now oversees all of the Boston-based company's distribution channels. Banks account for half the sales at Keyport, which is a leading seller of annuities.

Before succeeding Mr. Arant, Mr. Tully, 41, oversaw sales through Keyport's nonbank channels, including broker-dealers and independent agents.

Mr. Arant, who joined Keyport in 1994 after 22 years at Aetna Life and Casualty Co., could not be reached for comment.

Stephen Bonner, a senior vice president at Keyport, said Mr. Arant resigned by "mutual agreement" amid a reorganization but will remain with the company to assist with the transition.

The company plans to combine two units: the one formerly headed by Mr. Arant, which emphasizes fixed-rate and indexed products, and another, headed by Mr. Bonner, that focuses on variable products for retirement.

Sales of fixed annuities have slumped in recent years as interest rates have tumbled, and Keyport's volume has reflected that, according to data from Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J.

Keyport's fixed-annuity sales, which totaled $898 million in 1994, dipped to $555 million in 1995 and $455 million last year. This year, however, sales appear to be leveling off, with volume totaling $353 million through Sept. 30.

By contrast, the company's sales of variable annuities, which totaled $45 million in 1996, rose to $88 million for the first three quarters of 1997.

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