Athene Holding Ltd. announced Wednesday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the life insurance business of Aviva USA to Commonwealth Annuity and Life Insurance Co., a Massachusetts-domiciled insurer. The transaction is contingent upon the completion of the pending acquisition by Athene of the U.S. annuity and life insurance operations from London-based Aviva plc.

Athene's planned sale of the life insurance component of Aviva USA is "consistent with Athene's focus on becoming the leader in the fixed annuity segment of the retirement savings market," said James Belardi, Athene's CEO, in a press release.

Aviva USA's life insurance business had approximately $10 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2012, and includes business written by Aviva Life and Annuity Co. and Aviva Life and Annuity Co. of New York. The sale, which is expected to close later this year, will occur simultaneously with the closing of the acquisition of Aviva USA by Athene, officials said.

Aviva plc announced in December 2012 that it would sell its U.S. annuities and insurance unit, Aviva USA, to Athene Holding for $1.8 billion. The company moved into a new $135 million headquarters complex in West Des Moines in 2010. To be renamed Athene USA, the West Des Moines operation will serve as the head of Athene Holdings' U.S. operations. In that December announcement, Athene Holding officials said the company was committed to "retaining a substantial employee base in Des Moines as the centerpiece of Athene USA's nationwide operations."

Commonwealth Annuity and Life Insurance Co. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Atlantic Financial Group, a financial services holding company that has $1.75 billion of equity and more than $15 billion in assets. Global Atlantic "plans to build a local team in Iowa as part of the acquisition and to hire Aviva USA employees in Iowa," according to a statement in Wednesday's press release.

It's estimated that life insurance makes up between 30 and 40 percent of Aviva USA's operations, with the remainder being annuities sales.