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Heinz captive to reinsure term life


WASHINGTON—Consumer food products manufacturer H.J. Heinz Co. has received final U.S. Labor Department approval to fund employee benefit risks through its Vermont captive.

Pittsburgh-based Heinz will use its Vermont captive, Heinz-Noble Inc., to reinsure group term life insurance policies written by Minnesota Life Insurance Co. The transaction will cover about 9,300 individuals, mostly hourly employees and retirees.

Heinz, which in 2005 generated more than $8.9 billion in revenues, has about 41,100 employees worldwide, including more than 10,000 in the United States. The company now uses Heinz-Noble to fund a variety of property/casualty risks for Heinz and related companies.

Heinz said in its application, which was filed by Aon Consulting, that the transaction would enable its term life insurance plans to provide benefits "in a cost-effective manner."

Earlier this year, the Labor Department gave final approval to the U.S. affiliates of AstraZeneca P.L.C. to fund benefit risks through the pharmaceutical manufacturer's Vermont captive and to AGL Resources Inc., an Atlanta-based natural gas distributor, to use the Hawaii branch of its British Virgin Islands captive to reinsure certain benefit risks.

In all, 10 employers, including Heinz, have had their captive benefit funding applications approved since the Labor Department six years ago eased a key roadblock to captive benefit funding arrangements.