The Principal Financial Group of Des Moines, Iowa announced that it filed a plan of demutualization with the Iowa insurance commissioner.

The move is the first step toward Principal making an initial public offering. That is expected to take place later this year or in early 2002, the company said.

Principal is pursuing the change in structure to have greater resources to invest in technology and products in both domestic and international markets, the company said.

The public company will be called Principal Financial Group and will own 100 percent of the stock of Principal Financial Services, which includes Principal Management Corp., the adviser to the 26 retail Principal mutual funds sold through financial advisers. Principal Life Insurance Company will become an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Principal Financial Group.

Total assets under management in all of the Principal funds were $3.41 billion as of April 30, according to Wiesenberger/Thomson Financial of Rockville, Md.

The demutualization plan is contingent upon approval by insurance regulators and policyholders.

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