Buffet buys Dublin-based Hartford Life for $285 million

American parent refocusing on lower risk business

Dublin-based Hartford Life Ltd has been bought by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway for $285 million. The company, which sold variable annuities – a type of investment product – in the UK between 2005 and 2009, has been sold by its parent, Connecticut-based Hartford Financial Services Group, which is refocusing on casualty insurance.

Hartford Life is the sole asset of Hartford Life International, the vehicle being acquired by Columbia Insurance Company, part of the Berkshire Hathaway group. Based in Swords, Co Dublin, Hartford LIfe has 80 employees according to Top1000.ie. It had assets of €2 billion and reported a profit of €31.5 million in the year to last December.

The $285 million price is about the same as the unit’s statutory surplus, a measure of assets minus liabilities, as calculated under Irish accounting standards, Hartford said.

Variable annuities can guarantee minimum returns for clients, and results from the products have been pressured by stock-market volatility and low interest rates.


The deal will cut second-quarter earnings by about $110 million, Hartford said. Berkshire has done a number of similar deals with insurers seeking to cut risk or narrow their focus.