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U.S. regulator targets Apollo, Aviva insurance deal: WSJ

(Reuters) - The New York financial regulator is examining whether to overturn insurer Athene Holding Ltd's bid for the U.S. annuity business of Britain's Aviva PLC, part of its recent crackdown on private equity insurance deals, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Athene is funded by an affiliate of private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC.

Benjamin Lawsky, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services which has launched a review, is concerned that private equity firms' insurance ventures could place annuity holders at risk.

The New York agency is in talks with Apollo on a series of tougher disclosure and capital requirements that do not apply to traditional insurers, the paper said on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. (http://link.reuters.com/tep69t)

Athene agreed to buy the U.S. operations of Aviva for $1.55 billion last year.

Regulators have expressed concerns about rules that govern insurance companies with ties to private-equity firms and other investment firms and suggested that they must be subjected to greater oversight than traditional insurers to protect policy holders' funds.

Investment firms say they follow the same regulations that govern traditional insurers.

"We are cooperating fully" with Lawsky's agency, Athene's Chief Executive James Belardi told the Journal. Representatives for Apollo and Aviva declined to comment to the paper.

Fixed annuities are a type of insurance contract that guarantee the investor a minimum monthly payment.

None of the parties were immediately available for comment, when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Kanika Sikka in Bangalore; Editing by Mark Potter)

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