New York-based private equity firm KKR & Co. agreed to buy retirement and life insurance company Global Atlantic Financial Group Ltd. for more than $4.4 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported. The proposed deal marks a third significant purchase of assets and investment management of a Des Moines-based annuity company by private equity firms in recent years. 

KKR, which already manages $26 billion in assets on behalf of insurance companies, plans to take over management of roughly $70 billion of Global Atlantic’s assets. Global Atlantic, which is based in Bermuda, has its U.S. headquarters in Des Moines; the company has expanded its downtown offices with a $10 million expansion recently.  

After closing the transaction, Global Atlantic will continue to operate as a separate business with its existing brands and management team, the companies said in a news release.

Global Atlantic, which has more than 2 million policyholders, is one of the largest fixed rate and fixed indexed annuity providers in the United States. It also sells customized reinsurance solutions to its life and annuity company clients.

“We are thrilled to have a new, long-term partner in KKR,” said Allan Levine, chairman and CEO of Global Atlantic. “With its global presence, investment acumen and long-term focus, we believe we will be even better positioned – financially and strategically – both to help Americans address the financial challenges they face today and to help our institutional channel clients achieve their strategic, risk and capital management goals.”

In buying a large chunk of insurance assets, KKR is following the path of rivals Apollo Global Management Inc. and Blackstone Group, which in recent years have acquired and taken under management significant ownership stakes in insurance and annuity providers Athene USA and F&G, respectively, the Journal reported. Both Athene and F&G also base their U.S. operations in Des Moines. 

KKR said it expects to fund the acquisition from a combination of cash on hand, proceeds from potential minority co-investors and the issuance of new debt or equity by KKR. 

Upon the close of the deal, expected in early 2021 and subject to required regulatory approvals, Global Atlantic will continue to be run by its existing senior leadership team led by Levine, the companies said.