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Holocaust survivors and heirs filed suit last week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against seven European insurers that they allege refused to honor World War II life insurance policies taken out by Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution. They are seeking class-action status on behalf of more than 10,000 individuals they say are owed billions of dollars. The insurers named in the suit are: Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.; Allianz Holdings A.G. and two of its subsidiaries, Wiener Allianz A.G. and Riunione Adriatica Di Sicurta S.p.A.; Assurances Generales de France Vie; Der Anker Allegemeine Versicherungs A.G.; and Bavarian Reinsurance Co. . . .A London underwriting agency that wrote an alien abduction policy for the members of the Heaven's Gate cult is reserving 39 million pounds ($64.5 million) that could be used to pay claims related to the cult members' suicides last month in California. Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson Ltd. wrote a policy that would have paid if members of the group were abducted by aliens. Although no abduction occurred, "You never know with American juries," said Simon Burgess, director of the agency. Mr. Burgess said the mass suicide was a "dreadful shock" to the agency, which no longer will offer the alien abduction coverage. . . .Norway's leading insurer, Storebrand ASA, and the country's second biggest bank, Christiania Bank, will merge following regulatory approval. They say their financial service operations complement one another and that the merger will increase the range and diversity of financial services offered. It will also create a "larger and stronger" group to compete with the foreign institutions expanding into Norway, they said. . . .U.K. supermarket group J. Sainsbury P.L.C. will tell private pension providers within seven days how much it would cost to reinstate its employees to its pension plan. More than 600 of its employees fell victim to Britain's personal pension selling fiasco of the past decade, which saw thousands of individuals persuaded by agents of personal pension providers to leave company pension plans in favor of personal pensions that provided less protection. Although J. Sainsbury has no responsibility in the matter, Sainsbury said
it would expedite the return of its employees to its plans from those that have fallen behind in meeting government timetables for compensating victims. . . .U.K. insurance broker Lambert Fenchurch Group P.L.C. and German broker Pantaenius GmbH & Co. of Hamburg have agreed to form a general insurance broker joint venture in Germany. Lambert will acquire 40% of Pantaenius for 1.67 million pounds cash ($2.76 million) plus the share capital of Lowndes Lambert Deutschland A.G. . . .Lloyd's broker Manning Beard Ltd. changed its name to Manning Williams Ltd. at the start of April after the appointment of Andy Williams as joint managing director with Geoffrey Latham. Mr. Williams, who has been an underwriter and broker for more than 30 years, will bring experience in catastrophe and finite business to the company's established book of personal accident, health, kidnap and ransom and aviation business. . . .ACE London Underwriting Ltd. will assume the management of Methuen Underwriting Ltd. marine and non-marine syndicates. ALU also will merge Lloyd's syndicate 322 with syndicate 47 and syndicate 204 with syndicate 219. . . .Swiss insurer Zurich Group has launched a new corporate identity to reflect its refocused role as a provider of financial protection and asset and investment management services. The changes in corporate identity include a modified trademark eliminating the word "Insurance."