Fidelity & Guaranty Life, a wholly owned subsidiary of diversified holding company Harbinger Group Inc., has begun the process of moving its corporate headquarters from Baltimore, Md., to downtown Des Moines.

The life insurance and annuity company filed documents with the Iowa Secretary of State to make Des Moines its new headquarters effective today, said Paul Tyler, Fidelity's senior vice president of strategy and communications.

Greater Des Moines' climate as an insurance hub was the biggest reason for relocating to Iowa, Tyler told the Business Record.

"There's a huge business pool for companies like ours," he said. "I would say easily half of our major competitors are Iowa-based companies. We thought long-term, it just made sense to place our company where we have a good talent pool to draw from."  

Among its competitors in the fixed index annuity market with headquarters in Greater Des Moines are American Equity Investment Life Holding Co., Athene USA, ING USA and Principal Financial Group Inc.

Fidelity & Guaranty is currently negotiating a lease on permanent office space in downtown Des Moines and plans to employ approximately 50 people locally within the next three years.  It currently has a Midwest operations center in Lincoln, Neb.

"Our plans are not to lay people off either in Baltimore or Lincoln," Tyler said. "We're growing - we raised capital through a bond issue earlier this year. As we start to replace people in Baltimore, we'll put them in Iowa."

Tyler said its not yet known which of its top executives may move to Iowa, but it plans to hire at least one officer locally, he said. "We have a fairly mobile executive team," he said. "We have a couple who will move there - I can't tell you who or when."

The company, which is led by CEO Lee Launer Jr., recorded annuity sales of $270.8 million in the quarter ended June 30, the most recent posted on its website. Fixed indexed annuities generated approximately 95 percent of the company's total sales in fiscal year 2012. The insurer had approximately $17.4 billion in assets under management as of June 30.

In August, Harbinger filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to take Fidelity & Guaranty public in a $100 million initial public offering that is still pending regulatory approval.