MetLife Inc., the life insurer that is reshaping its business mix to limit government oversight, is in talks with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. about a possible sale of MetLife Premier Client Group, the company’s U.S. advisor force.
“There can be no assurance that an agreement will be reached or that a transaction will be consummated,” New York-based MetLife said Thursday in a statement.
MetLife Chief Executive Officer Steve Kandarian is weighing the possible sale, spinoff or public offering of a U.S. retail unit after his company was declared by regulators as a systemically important financial institution, a too-big-to-fail designation that can bring tighter capital rules. The discussions with MassMutual are tied to the separation plan, MetLife said in Thursday’s statement.
A separate U.S. proposal for stricter rules on retirement-product sales is pushing some insurers to evaluate whether they keep broker-dealer operations. American International Group Inc. said last month that it was selling AIG Advisor Group to funds affiliated with Donald Marron’s Lightyear Capital LLC and PSP Investments.
“It’s a business we are not the best owner of, particularly in the light of potential Department of Labor rules,” AIG CEO Peter Hancock said at the time, citing regulations that would require advisors to put their clients’ best interests first for retirement accounts. “With the new DOL rules, that was a big factor in thinking whether this was better owned by somebody independent of us.”
Policyholder-owned MassMutual said in a separate statement that it entered into discussions about a possible deal and that “no timetable has been set for any agreement.” The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday on the Springfield, Massachusetts-based company’s talks with MetLife, saying the business has roughly 4,000 salespeople.