Hartford selling UK variable annuity business

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying The Hartford's British variable annuity business for about $285 million.

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. announced in March that it was exiting the annuity business so that it can focus on its property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. The Hartford, Conn. company said that its decision to exit the annuity business came after a board evaluation.

Annuities are a popular component of retirement plans, and can be structured to provide fixed payments at specified intervals for the lives of the beneficiaries.

Hartford CFO Christopher Swift said in a statement Thursday that the sale of Hartford Life International Ltd. to Berkshire's Columbia Insurance Co. will help reduce the size and risk related to some legacy variable annuities.

The acquisition is expected to result in a second-quarter net loss of about $110 million, Hartford said.

The deal is targeted to close by year's end. Hartford said that once the sale is complete, its only asset will be subsidiary Hartford Life Ltd., which sold variable annuities in the U.K. from 2005 to 2009.

Berkshire's Oriental Trading Co. also announced Thursday that it is buying toy maker MindWare Holdings Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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