Philadelphia Financial Group Inc., a Center City firm that insures "ultra-high-net-worth" individuals, has agreed to pay $117.5 million for Hartford Financial Services' Hartford Life Private Placement L.L.C. and will manage its $35 billion corporate and private insurance portfolio.

The deal "significantly extends our market-leading, ultra-high-net-worth, private-placement franchise," said John K. Hillman, president and chief executive officer of Philadelphia Financial.

Hartford Life's 85 employees will remain in their Florham Park, N.J., offices. PFG employs about 40 at its One Liberty Place headquarters. Hillman expects to hire more as the business grows.

The deal leaves Hartford to "focus on its core businesses," said Hartford Wealth Management boss David N. Levenson. Reinsurance Group of America will finance the deal, and Evercore Partners advised Philadelphia Financial.

Philadelphia Financial will be 10 times larger than it is currently. "PFG manages approximately $3.8 billion in assets, supporting private-placement life policies for the ultra-high-net-worth market," Hillman said in a statement. After the transaction, the total assets under management will be slightly less than $40 billion, for both the market that insures the very wealthy and the corporate market.

Hillman called the deal "transformational" for PFG. "Strategically, this acquisition enhances our industry-leading profile," he said. "Combined, we will administer nearly $40 billion in separate account assets and hold a leading position in both the individual and corporate segments."

Hillman, a St. Joseph's University and Bishop Egan High School graduate, founded what is now Philadelphia Financial in 1996 and moved the firm to Liberty Place this year, after purchasing Phoenix Life & Reassurance Co., of New York, and its AGL Life Assurance Co. affiliate. Philadelphia Financial has had "historically profitable," but "uneven," financial results, especially after the global financial crisis, as more rich people cashed in their policies, A.M. Best Co., a ratings agency, reported at the time.

Philadelphia Financial investors who supported the firm's previous expansion include Tiptree Financial Partners L.L.C., an affiliate of Tricadia Holdings L.P., a bargain-hunting New York financial-investments group run by Michael Barnes for a group of institutional owners such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS).

Contact staff writer Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194 or JoeD@phillynews.com.