American General Corp., one of the nation's largest diversified financial services companies, has agreed to acquire Home Beneficial Corp. for $665 million. Houston-based American General, an aggressive buyer in the consolidating insurance industry, said shareholders of Home Beneficial can choose to be paid in either cash or common stock in the $39-a-share deal. The news sent Home Beneficial stock up $8.6875 to close at $37.9375 on Nasdaq. American General lost 25 cents to close at $40 on the New York Stock Exchange. The deal would be American General's third life insurance company acquisition in the last two years at a total cost of $2.2 billion. The company is among the nation's biggest life insurers on the basis of sales. Home Beneficial is based in Richmond, Va.