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Principal Hires Rank, Hanson to Help Oversee $7 Billion

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June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Principal Financial Group Inc., the provider of life insurance and retirement products, hired Josh Rank and Matt Hanson to help run a $7 billion portfolio of high-yield assets at the fixed-income division.

Rank and Hanson previously worked at the North American investment unit of Aviva Plc, Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal said today in a statement. They’ll join a team led by Mark Denkinger and Darrin Smith. Rank will be responsible for portfolio management and investment strategy while Hanson will analyze securities in the energy industry.

“Both will be an asset in growing our client base and bolstering our investment strategy,” David Blake, global head of fixed income and chief investment officer at Principal Global Investors, said in the statement.

Principal is among insurers seeking to add fee income from managing clients’ money as low bond yields pressure returns from life policies. The insurer struck a $1.5 billion deal last year to buy pension manager AFP Cuprum SA to add revenue from Chile. In March, Principal said it would take a majority stake in Liongate Capital Management LLP to expand in hedge funds and meet demand for alternative investments.

Rank, 35, was vice president, senior portfolio manager of high yield at the Aviva unit, Principal said. He is a graduate of Iowa State University. Hanson, 40, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and has an MBA from the University of Iowa. He was senior securities analyst for high yield and investment grade in the Aviva post, according to the statement.

Aviva’s Plans

Rank started today, and Hanson begins July 1, Adam Lackey, a spokesman for Principal, said in an interview. Their additions expand the high-yield fixed-income team to 11 people, Lackey said.

Aviva has been scaling back some operations, reaching a deal last year to sell a U.S. life and annuity business to Apollo Global Management LLC’s Athene arm. The London-based insurer said in April it planned to eliminate 2,000 jobs, targeting Europe and Asia for cuts.

“Aviva Investors does not comment on departing employees,” Rob Ranges, a spokesman for the company, said in an e-mail. “We are committed to the asset-management business in the Americas with offices in Chicago, Boston, New York and Toronto.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Tracer in New York at ztracer1@bloomberg.net; Megan Hickey in New York at Mhickey18@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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