MetLife restructures US and UK operations

Global life insurer MetLife will cease to write individual insurance policies in the United States, having established a new firm to house its domestic retail life and annuity insurance divisions.

MetLife received final regulatory approval from the Delaware Insurance Commissioner to spin-off its businesses into insurance subsidiaries of the newly formed Brighthouse Financial on 29 June 2017.

MetLife will now instead focus on domestic group policies and operations as well as its international businesses, while individual life insurance policies and annuities will be written by companies under the new Brighthouse banner, led by MetLife executive vice president Eric Steigerwalt.

Companies under the Brighthouse banner include MetLife Insurance Company USA, General American Life Insurance Company, Metropolitan Tower Life Insurance Company and several other subsidiaries that have reinsured risks underwritten by MetLife.

The move will see about 1.3 million life insurance policyholders and 1.5 million annuity contract holders transition from MetLife Insurance Company USA to Brighthouse Life Insurance Company, adding more than US$220 billion in assets.

Plans to separate the businesses were announced in January 2016 and Brighthouse Financial was registered in October 2016 via a Form 10 filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. At the time of the announcement MetLife said it was continuing to "evaluate and pursue structural alternatives for the planned separation", including the possibility of a sale.

The Form 10 was declared effective by the SEC on 6 July, and the record date will be 19 July with a distribution date of 4 August - on which MetLife common shareholders will receive a distribution of one share of Brighthouse Financial common stock for every 11 shares of MetLife common stock they own as of the record date.

This week MetLife's UK operations also announced the close of its wealth management business to new business as part of a refocused strategy to drive the growth of its employee benefits and individual protection businesses.

MetLife UK managing director Dominic Grinstead said that while its wealth management products deliver good outcomes to customers, the ongoing challenge of long-term low interest rates has made it difficult to deliver value for MetLife since launching in 2007.

"After thorough analysis, we have decided to focus on our employee benefits and individual protection business. We will work with our colleagues to support them as we go through this important transition. We are committed to providing the highest level of service to our customers and financial advisers," Grinstead said.

Illustrations for new business ceased at close of business on Friday 7 July while applications will continue to be accepted until 5pm Friday 28 July. The existing 50,000 clients and their advisers will continue to be serviced as normal.

Read more: MetLifelife insuranceBrighthouse FinancialMetLife Insurance Company USASECBrighthouse Life Insurance CompanyDelaware Insurance CommissionerDominic GrinsteadEric SteigerwaltGeneral American Life Insurance CompanyMetLife UKMetropolitan Tower Life Insurance Company
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