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Morgan on insurance exit

New York, Nov. 6 (Reuters): JP Morgan Chase & Co has put its life insurance and annuity operations up for sale, a source familiar with the matter said on Saturday, in the latest move by the US bank to shed a smaller non-corebusiness.

JP Morgan, which last year bought Chicago-based rival Bank One Corp. for $58 billion, owns a US life insurance and annuity business that Bank One bought from Zurich Financial Services Group in 2003 for $500 million, in addition to its own small operation.

JP Morgan Chase declined to comment.

The current auction comes after E*Trade Financial Corp in September agreed to buy the online broker Brown Co from JP Morgan for $1.6 billion.

The move would also make JP Morgan the latest bank to sell its insurance unit.

Earlier this year,z Citigroup scaled down its attempt to create a financial supermarket when it sold its Travelers Lifeinsurance business to MetLife Inc. for $11.8 billion.

JP Morgan insurance unit is far smaller than Citigroup’s and earned $18 million in the third quarter, down $2 million from the prior year, on net revenue of $158 million.

The insurance group is part of the JPMorgan’s retail banking unit, which has branches stretching from the Midwest to the Southwest and in Chase’s huge home base in the New York metropolitan area.

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