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First Union to sell annuitiesThe lines between...


First Union to sell annuities

The lines between banks and insurance companies were further blurred yesterday as First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., announced plans to license 800 of its employees to sell annuities through its branch offices.

Annuities, which offer a stream of payments after retirement, are attracting more attention from banks that want to offer investment products that are more attractive than certificates of deposit. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two months ago that banks could sell annuities.

First Union, which has branches in Maryland and the District of Columbia, is the nation's ninth-largest banking company and is already a leader among banks in the mutual fund business.

Storage USA acquires 31 sites

Storage USA Inc. said yesterday that its SUSA Partnership unit signed two tentative agreements to acquire 31 self-storage facilities for about $123 million.

These acquisitions of the facilities in 10 states consist of one portfolio of 25 properties and one portfolio of six properties, the Columbia-based real estate investment trust said.

Also yesterday, Storage USA said it would increase its regular quarterly dividend 11 percent, to 51 cents a share. The company said the board's decision to increase the dividend reflected a growth in cash flow. The dividend is payable April 10 to shareholders of record March 31.

U.S. Shoe gives Italian bid the boot

U.S. Shoe Corp. yesterday rejected a $1.1 billion takeover bid from Italy's Luxottica Group SpA and said it would instead sell its footwear division to Nine West Group Inc. for about $600 million.

The Cincinnati-based company, which also owns the Lenscrafters optical chain and women's clothing stores, said its directors rejected Luxottica's offer as inadequate and recommended that shareholders not sell their stock.

Annapolis firm gets Calif. work

Pacific Animated Imaging Corp., a provider of interactive computer-based training programs, has been awarded a subcontract for TRW Inc.'s $40.8 million contract with the California Department of Corrections.

The Pacific Imaging subcontract will be worth up to $1.45 million over two years, the Annapolis company said.

Bear Stearns to offer mutual funds

Bear, Stearns & Co., an investment bank best known for trading with institutions and advising corporations, is getting into the mutual fund business. New York-based Bear Stearns said it will offer five mutual funds.


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