UK - Around 450 of Prudential UK's life and pensions staff are to transfer to Capita under a £40m (€59m) outsourcing contract.

The Prudential said the move caps a "difficult time" for its staff in the area.

Capita said it signed a three-year contract with Prudential "to deliver a range of life and pension sales and administration services".

The deal builds on its existing relationship with Prudential, where it provides life and pensions administration services for cross border life assurance.

Under the new agreement, Capita will deliver "end-to-end support" for Prudential's UK life and pensions operations.

It said: "Approximately 450 staff working in Prudential's customer services, PruDirect (direct-to-consumer) and support services operations in Belfast will transfer to Capita under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) in early Autumn 2006.

"We are delighted to have this opportunity to further support Prudential by playing a key role in the development and success of its UK life and pensions business," said Capita chief executive Paul Pindar.

"The contract significantly expands our Life & Pensions business and reinforces our position as a leader in delivering outsourced solutions in this market.

"We welcome all the Prudential staff who will transfer with the contract to Capita and we are excited about the opportunities to continue expanding our business in Belfast."

"This has been a very difficult time for all our staff in Belfast but throughout this period, they have continued to provide an excellent service to our customers," said Prudential chief executive Nick Prettejohn.

"This outsourcing agreement helps provide them with continued employment and enables us to maintain the highest standards of customer service while delivering the efficiencies and cost savings we announced earlier in the year.

"We are delighted to have selected Capita as our outsourcing partner and look forward to working with them."