Good Things For A Japanese Insurer?

GENERAL ELECTRIC MAY BE riding to the rescue of a distressed Japanese insurance company. Officials at GE Financial Assurance, the insurance unit of GE Capital Services, say they are talking to Toho Mutual Life Insurance of Tokyo. Toho, which had $33 billion in assets as of the end of September, is the 12th-largest insurer in Japan. The deal--which could be announced by Feb. 13--may involve a joint venture to create and sell new products. The Japanese life insurance market, the world's biggest, has seen several bad years because of falling interest rates and depressed stocks. GE would be the first U.S. company to gain a large presence--if a deal goes through.

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