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Prudential Investment Unit Offers to Help Smaller Insurers.

The Prudential Insurance Company of America's private-placement investment arm has begun offering its asset-management expertise to other insurance companies that may not have the size or ability to issue debt on their own.

"We haven't made our asset-management capabilities available to other insurance companies. It's been pretty much captive to Prudential," said Al Trank, portfolio manager for the Prudential Capital Group. "This is kind of a watermark event for us."

In another first, Prudential is adding certified public accountants to its distribution channels for investment and insurance products.

Prudential has agreed to acquire a majority interest in Hochman & Baker Inc., a Northbrook, Ill.-based firm that recruits and trains accounting professionals to become licensed to offer investment and insurance products to tax and business clients. Prudential wouldn't disclose terms of the transaction, except to say the firm's two principals, Joe Hochman and Glenn Baker, will retain a 20% interest and will lead the firm's plans for a nationwide expansion.

The largest U.S. insurer in terms of admitted assets has reaped solid rewards by issuing debt to private, midsized companies, usually with a market capitalization of $500 million at most.

Private placements make up about one-third of Prudential's investment portfolio, Trank said. That's about double the industry average of 15%. The company's venture has about $32 billion in assets under management invested from Prudential's general account.

The 30 largest U.S. insurers are large enough to have their own private-placement staffs, and a company's ability to do its own research falls off dramatically after that, Trank said. "You really need scale to do this at all well," he said.
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Title Annotation:asset-management
Comment:Prudential Investment Unit Offers to Help Smaller Insurers.(asset-management)
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
Words:269
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