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Principal Sells Deposits as Insurer Limits Banking

Principal Financial Group Inc. agreed to sell $200 million of deposits from its savings and loan unit and said the business plans to divest commercial loans as part of an effort to limit the insurer’s role in banking amid greater U.S. supervision.

The deal with BofI Holding Inc. includes funds from individual checking accounts and certificates of deposit, according to a statement today from Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal. The insurer, which provides life coverage and retirement products, is seeking to deregister as a savings and loan holding company.

Insurers including MetLife Inc., Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and Allstate Corp. have sold deposits or retreated from banking as regulators increase oversight. Principal said its bank will operate as a limited purpose trust institution after the sales are complete and will continue offering individual retirement accounts.

“Principal Bank will need to divest of all commercial and commercial real estate loans before Principal Financial Group can formally be deregistered,” Sonja Sorrel, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. “We are working on those transactions and the regulatory approvals they will require. We are still on track in our efforts to accomplish deregistration by year-end.”

Property Lending

Principal Bank’s loan portfolio includes more than $260 million classified as commercial real estate as of March 31, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. There are also more than $100 million of loans in the multifamily residential real estate category and about $35.5 million listed as commercial and industrial.

The bank operates online with no physical branches, as does BofI, the holding company for Bank of Internet. San Diego-based BofI disclosed the $200 million deposit figure today in a regulatory filing that didn’t state how much it was paying.

BofI slipped 3.1 percent to $45.66 at 4 p.m. in New York, cutting its advance for the year to 64 percent. Principal climbed 1.4 percent, and is up about 33 percent since Dec. 31.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, insurers with thrifts are subject to federal supervision -- including new capital standards --that firms such as MetLife have said are not suited to the industry. The act’s Volcker rule limits proprietary trading and investing in private equity or hedge funds.

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