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Cigna Buys FirstAssist from Barclays PE

U.S. health insurer Cigna Corp. is buying travel insurance company FirstAssist Insurance Services from the private equity wing of Barclays Plc, Reuters reported Tuesday. The deal is reportedly valued at more than $100 million.

(Reuters) – U.S. health insurer Cigna Corp has agreed to buy travel insurance provider FirstAssist Insurance Services to add a new product line to its international business.

Cigna is buying the London-based business from the private equity arm of Barclays Plc . The acquisition is valued at more than $100 million, according to a source familiar with the deal.

FirstAssist, with nearly 3 million policyholders in Britain, specializes in providing products and services that protect customers and their families against unexpected events through travel, health, employment and legal-related insurance.

While current policyholders are from Britain, Cigna expects to expand the travel products into Asia and other regions where Cigna sells individual policies.

“We’re going to use that expertise to do product development in our other countries around the globe,” said Cigna International President William Atwell. “They bring that expertise of the travel insurance segment, which we don’t have.”

The travel insurance market grew about 10 percent last year in major European and Asian markets, according to Cigna.

“The travel market is growing fairly robustly, even in these times,” Atwell said.

FirstAssist, which had about $240 million in net earned premiums last year, offers travel insurance including for medical needs as well as for trip cancellation and lost baggage. The deal is expected to close this year.

Cigna’s international business sells insurance products directly to individuals that supplement government programs. It also offers insurance to employees of multinational companies who work abroad, or expatriate insurance.

Cigna, one of the largest U.S. health insurers, reported that its international segment profit rose 11 percent in the first half of the year. International represented about 19 percent of the company’s overall profit in that period.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Richard Chang)