MetLife No Longer a Bank Holding Company

February 18, 2013

The insurer MetLife Inc., which sold its bank deposits in January, says it is no longer a bank holding company.

MetLife said it received approval for the status change from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the board of governors of the Federal Reserve.

It had been a bank holding company since 2001, and as a result it faced tougher regulation after the financial crisis and was subject to the Federal Reserve’s “stress tests,” which assessed how banks would weather another serious downturn.

MetLife failed those tests, and as a result the Fed has not allowed MetLife to increase its dividend or buy back shares.

MetLife said in 2011 that it did not want to be a bank holding company anymore and wanted to focus on its insurance business. After that it sold off some non-core business: it recently sold its $70 billion mortgage servicing unit to JPMorgan Chase & Co. and sold $6.4 billion in bank deposits to General Electric Co. in January.

Last Wednesday, the New York company reported its fourth-quarter results and said its net income plunged after it took $855 million in losses on derivatives. Derivatives are financial instruments often used to hedge against future price fluctuations of an underlying commodity or security. MetLife uses them to hedge changes in interest rates and fluctuations in foreign currencies.

 

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