Desjardins Group has signed a deal to buy Guardian Capital Group Ltd.'s life insurance, mutual fund and investment distribution networks for $750 million.

Desjardins Group chief executive Guy Cormier says the deal positions it as a leader in life insurance independent distribution in Canada and strengthens its distribution of retail investment products.

Under the agreement, Desjardins will acquire IDC Worldsource Insurance Network Inc., mutual fund dealer Worldsource Financial Management Inc. and full-service investment dealer Worldsource Securities Inc.

It says it plans to operate the acquired companies as stand-alone entities, and expects them to continue being led by the current teams of management and employees. 

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of next year and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. 

Desjardins Group is one of the largest co-operative financial groups in the world.