June 27, 2013 / 11:43 AM / 7 years ago

Hartford to sell UK annuity business to Berkshire for $258 million

(Reuters) - Insurer Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG.N) will sell its UK variable annuity business to a unit of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) (BRKb.N) for about $258 million (168 million pounds) as it looks to pay down debt and focus on its property and casualty business.

The sale of Hartford Life International Ltd to Berkshire unit Columbia Insurance Co is expected to result in an after-tax loss of about $110 million in the second quarter, Hartford said in a statement.

Hartford has been selling assets after coming under pressure from shareholders including hedge fund manager John Paulson who screamed at management on an earnings call last year to do something “drastic” to boost the company’s industry-low valuation.

The company has so far sold its individual life insurance, broker-dealer and retirement plan businesses.

On Wednesday, Hartford increased the size of its share buyback by $750 million to $1.25 billion.

The sale of the UK unit is expected to close by the end of the year. Deutsche Bank is Hartford’s financial adviser and Sidley Austin LLP the legal adviser.

Hartford shares, which have risen 7 percent since it reported first-quarter results at the end of April, closed at $29.99 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. Berkshire class B shares closed at $112.91.

Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bangalore

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