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Principal Financial Boosts Staff First Time Since 2007

Principal Financial Group Inc. expanded its workforce last year for the first time since 2007 as the life insurer acquired a Chilean pension manager and a provider of hedge funds.

The company had 14,792 employees at the end of 2013, compared with 13,373 a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing today. The Des Moines, Iowa-based insurer employed 16,585 people at the end of 2007.

Principal last year acquired AFP Cuprum SA, which manages Chilean retirement funds, and hedge-fund firm Liongate Capital Management LLP. Chief Executive Officer Larry Zimpleman is seeking to boost fees from money-management and reduce reliance on products in which the company has risk tied to bond yields.

“We’ve expanded our retirement leadership position to key countries in Latin America and Asia,” Zimpleman said on a conference call with investors this month.

The employee increase was fueled by the Cuprum deal, said Susan Houser, a company spokesman. Cuprum had 1,161 employees at the end of 2012, according to a document on its website.

Principal has said it’s looking to expand with more acquisitions outside the U.S., mainly in asset management. The company spent about $2 billion since 2008 adding money managers, according to a December presentation.

The company had been cutting workers as it recovered from the financial crisis and in 2010 began an exit from health insurance.

Principal gained 0.1 percent to $43.79 at 12:46 p.m. in New York. The shares are up 40 percent in the past 12 months.

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