Connecticut Attorney general Richard Blumenthal said he would oppose the acquisition of Hartford-based Travelers Life & Annuity by MetLife Inc. because he said it is bad for his state’s economy.
“This acquisition is against the public interest because it will destroy jobs, damage our economy and disadvantage families,” he said in a statement.
Blumenthal said he would intervene when the state insurance department begins its approval process. He said he wants to protect up to 800 jobs that he maintained may be lost and would also insist that MetLife continue investments in local charitable and cultural programs that Travelers has had.
Blumenthal’s job loss estimate does not square with the company’s. MetLife Inc. has said that it will cut 600 jobs within a year as part of the proposed takeover of Travelers Life & Annuity. One hundred positions would be eliminated immediately and 500 others would be cut in the coming months, the company said. The majority of workers affected are in Hartford, according to MetLife spokesman John Calagna.
“These numbers are based on MetLife making a business decision on how best to run these two businesses while at the same time being sensitive to the jobs situation in Hartford,” he said.
MetLife agreed in January to pay $11.5 billion to Citigroup Inc. for Travelers Life & Annuity and substantially all of Citigroup’s international insurance businesses.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has spoken to MetLife about jobs, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and others have pressured the New York-based insurer in the last few weeks to minimize the job loss among the 2,000 Travelers employees in Connecticut.
Rell said while the company is cutting fewer jobs than had been rumored, she thinks there are still too many being eliminated. “And some of the jobs that are disappearing are important ones — jobs that are hard to come by, and jobs that we want to keep in Connecticut,” she said in a written statement.
Insurance Commissioner Susan Cogswell, who must approve the transaction, has not yet scheduled a public hearing on the sale.
The Travelers transaction would make MetLife the largest individual life insurance company in U.S sales.