Shareholders of Primerica Corp. and The Travelers Corp. approved a merger Thursday that creates one of the nation's largest financial services companies.

New York-based Primerica will change its name to The Travelers Inc. on Friday, when the transaction closes, company officials said.Primerica struck a $4.2 billion deal in September to acquire the approximately 73 percent of Travelers common stock it did not already own.

The new company has four major businesses: insurance, a securities brokerage, consumer lending and asset management. The new Travelers has more than $100 billion in assets, nearly $10 billion in stockholders' equity and manages about $140 billion in assets.

The Travelers' headquarters will be in New York, but The Travelers Insurance Cos. subsidiary will remain in Hartford.

"Under the famous red umbrella will be a broader range of products and services than ever before, serving a broader range of customers than ever before," said Primerica's chairman, Sanford I. Weill, who will become chairman and chief executive officer of The Travelers.

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Weill said the company's brokerage business, Smith Barney Shearson, will move its national training center from New York to downtown Hartford's Constitution Plaza within the next two months.

The move will bring thousands of employees to Hartford each year, boosting business downtown. The company will save money by housing and training its brokerage employees in Hartford instead of New York, analysts have said.

Robert I. Lipp will be chief executive officer of the insurance unit, while remaining vice chairman, director and group chief executive of the parent company.

Travelers' current chairman and CEO, Edward H. Budd, will remain as chairman of the the insurance subsidiary. He will also serve as a director and chairman of the parent company's executive committee.

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