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MassMutual profit rises 8 percent in 2006 to $810 million

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. --MassMutual Financial Group said Tuesday its profit rose 8 percent last year, and the mutually owned provider of life insurance and other financial products handed out its largest-ever dividend to policyholders.

MassMutual's profit, or consolidated statutory net income, rose to $810 million from $753 million in 2005. Revenue rose 3.4 percent to $18 billion from $17.4 billion the prior year.

The dividend rose 6 percent from $1.16 billion in 2005 to $1.23 billion last year, for the biggest payout in the company's 156-year history.

Springfield-based MassMutual is mutually owned, with profits distributed among policyholders in proportion to the amount of business they do with the company. MassMutual does not have publicly traded stock, and reports limited financial results each year.

Assets under management by MassMutual's life insurance arm, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., and its subsidiaries rose 15 percent to $456 billion on Dec. 31, 2006, up from $396 billion at the end of 2005. Subsidiaries include OppenheimerFunds, Babson Capital Management and Baring Asset Management.

Sales of U.S. insurance products rose 36 percent to $1.62 billion from $1.19 billion a year ago, but sales of retirement products fell 7 percent to $5.02 billion from $5.42 billion in 2005.

"MassMutual enhanced its strong competitive position in 2006 through a sharpened strategic focus on core strengths," said Stuart Reese, chairman, president and chief executive.

MassMutual is the only Massachusetts company on Fortune magazine's list of the 100 largest U.S. firms based on revenue, ranking number 92 on last year's list.

The company, with a total 27,000 employees and agents selling MassMutual products, provides life insurance, annuities, and other insurance and investment products to individual and institutional customers.