A joint venture with Putnam Investments helped push Allstate Life Insurance Co.'s sales of variable annuities through banks 49% higher in the second quarter.

The jump to $348 million, from $233 million in the first quarter, can be largely attributed to the Putnam Allstate Advisor joint venture, said Kenneth Kehrer, president of Kenneth Kehrer Associates. His Princeton, N.J., consulting firm released its second-quarter annuity sales rankings Thursday. "Putnam is a best-selling mutual fund in banks, and the name Putnam goes a long way in the bank channel," Mr. Kehrer said. "They started selling that product a little over a year ago, and it's worked out well for them so far."

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