Report: Citi May Sell Primerica to Flowers

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) may sell Primerica, its life insurance unit, to insurer Protective Life Corp (PL.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and private equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Flowers may invest in Protective, which could then buy Primerica, the news agency reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of talks among the companies.

But it said it was unclear the talks would lead to a deal.

A Citi spokesman, contacted by Reuters, said the company “does not comment on market rumor or speculation.” He said Primerica was “a financially strong and fundamentally sound business.”

Protective Life and J.C. Flowers were not immediately available for comment.

Primerica serves 6 million clients in the United States, Canada and Spain and has more than 100,000 licensed representatives. The unit sells term life insurance and mutual funds. It also offers services to help families get rid of debt.

The business was one of Sanford Weill’s first acquisitions as he built the financial services empire that ultimately became Citigroup.

Weill, who retired as Citi’s chief executive in 2003 and is now the bank’s chairman emeritus, bought Primerica in 1988 through his initial holding, a Baltimore-based consumer lender called Commercial Credit.

Vikram Pandit, who became Citi’s chief executive in December, succeeding Weill’s handpicked successor, Charles “Chuck” Prince, said earlier this year that he plans to reduce $500 billion of non-core “legacy” assets to less than $100 billion in two to three years.

(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal; editing by John Wallace)