MetLife Inc., incorporated in 1999, is the holding corporation for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (or MetLife) which is the flagship insurance subsidiary under it. The insurance company was founded on March 24th, 1868 and is currently headquartered in MetLife Building in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. MetLife was a mutual organization for most part of time since its formation but it went public in the year 2000 with the 7th largest IPO ever in the history of United States.
MetLife is the largestÂ life insurerÂ in theÂ United States, with more than $3.3 trillion of life insurance in force. MetLife is a leader in savings and retirement products and services for individuals, small business, and large institutions, and also serves 90 of the largestÂ Fortune 100Â companies. The main competitors of MetLife are Allianz SE, AIG and Prudential Financial Inc.
MetLife operates in four segments namely Institutional, Individual, International and Auto & Home. MetLife's Institutional segment offers group benefit products as follows:
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Life & disability insurance
Prepaid legal plans
The Individual Segment offers mostly the same products as above customized for consumers, while the International Segment offers the same to groups and individuals in the Asia/Pacific region, Europe, and Latin America. MetLife's Auto & Home segment works through subsidiary Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance (MPC).
The Company's Institutional segment offers a range of group insurance and retirement and savings products and services to corporations and other institutions and their respective employees. Group insurance products and services include group life insurance, non-medical health insurance products and related administrative services, as well as other benefits and services, such as employer-sponsored auto and homeowners insurance provided through the Auto & Home segment and prepaid legal services plans. Non-medical health insurance consists of products, such as accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), long-term care (LTC), short and long-term disability, individual disability income, dental insurance, and prepaid legal services. MetLife offers group insurance products as employer-paid benefits or as voluntary benefits, where all or a portion of the premiums are paid by the employee. Its retirement and savings products and services include an array of annuity and investment products, including defined contribution plans, guaranteed interest products and other stable value products, accumulation and income annuities, and separate account contracts for the investment management of defined benefit and defined contribution plan assets.
MetLife's Individual segment offers a variety of protection and asset accumulation products aimed at serving the financial needs of its customers throughout their entire life cycle. Products offered by Individual include insurance products, such as traditional, variable and universal life insurance, and variable and fixed annuities. In addition, Individual sales representatives distribute disability insurance and LTC insurance products offered through the Institutional segment, investment products, such as mutual funds, as well as other products offered by the Company's other businesses. Individual's principal distribution channels are the agency distribution group and the independent distribution group. Individual also distributes products through several additional distribution channels, including Walnut Street Securities, Inc. (Walnut Street Securities), MetLife Resources, Tower Square Securities, Inc. (Tower Square Securities) and Texas Life Insurance Company (Texas Life).
International segment provides life insurance, accident and health insurance, credit insurance, annuities and retirement and savings products to both individuals and groups. The Company focuses on emerging markets primarily within the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. MetLife operates in international markets through subsidiaries and joint ventures. The Company operates in the Latin America region in countries, including Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The operations in Mexico, Chile and Argentina represented 82% of the total premiums and fees in this region during 2008. MetLife operates in Europe in countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Poland and Ireland. The Company operates in the Asia Pacific region in countries, including South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and China. The operations in South Korea and Taiwan represented 70% of the total premiums and fees in this region during 2008.
Auto & Home, operating through Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its subsidiaries (MPC), offers personal lines property and casualty insurance directly to employees at their employer's worksite, as well as to individuals through a variety of retail distribution channels, including the agency distribution group, independent agents, property and casualty specialists and direct response marketing. Auto & Home primarily sells auto insurance, which represented 69% of Auto & Home's total net earned premiums during the year ended December 31, 2008, and homeowners and other insurance, which represented 31% of Auto & Home's total net earned premiums during 2008. Auto & Home's insurance products include auto, homeowners, renters, condominium and dwelling, and other personal lines.
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Corporate & Other contains the excess capital not allocated to the business segments, which is invested to optimize investment spread and to fund company initiatives, various start-up entities, MetLife Bank which includes the 2008 acquisitions of a residential mortgage originating and servicing business and a reverse mortgage company, and run-off entities. Corporate & other also includes interest expense related to the majority of its outstanding debt and expenses associated with certain legal proceedings. The elimination of all intersegment transactions from activity between segments occurs within Corporate & Other.
Though a part of the name of MetLife stands for "Metropolitan" the company functions everywhere from small villages to towns and large cities. A winning strategy for MetLife has been to focus on managing their business for the long term. Executing this strategy is core to their continued growth. While the challenging economic conditions and sluggish markets are impacting sales in the financial services industry, MetLife's core fundamentals remain strong as they continue to benefit from a diversified business. Though the economy negatively affected the life market, consumer confidence is rebounding. One important issue is the impact of potential tax reform proposals on their products -- whether directly or indirectly. An important feature of insurance products is tax deferral and a tax-free life insurance death benefit. During uncertain economic times, the guarantees and protection available in cash value life insurance may become more popular. High early cash value products are getting more attention in the business markets and are being used to help accumulate and restore wealth in a tax-efficient manner.
MetLife has earlier already diversified in critical illnesses around 2005. It was MetLife's first venture that specifically bundled coverage for a number of critical illnesses, which in other plans include heart attacks, life-threatening cancer, strokes, multiple sclerosis, major organ transplant, renal failure, blindness, deafness and paralysis. Given the breadth of products MetLife sells to both institutions and individuals, this new bundled approach provided MetLife with an excellent opportunity for cross-marketing sales.
AIG in Talks With MetLife For Sale Of Alico
American International Group Inc. (AIG) is in advanced talks to sell American Life Insurance Company (Alico) to MetLife Inc. Alico may be sold for $14 billion to $15 billion. Bloomberg reported that Mark Herr, a spokesman for AIG denied commenting on the issue. Christopher Breslin, official of MetLife stated that the company "does not need to enter into any mergers and acquisitions" to meet its goals and that any deal it makes must be "financially attractive." A sale agreement is likely to be announced in a few weeks if the companies are able to negotiate remaining deal terms. MetLife made a preliminary offer of about $11.2 billion for the division, people familiar with the bid said in February. Shares of AIG rose 36 cents to $28.42 and MetLife's shares rose 2.6% to $38.85.
Banco del Estado de Chile, MetLife, Inc to Focus on Innovation, Online Sales , New Distribution Channels
Banco del Estado de Chile and MetLife, Inc. will during the next five years focus their life insurance partnership on innovation, online sales and new distribution channels. MetLife signed a 20-year partnership covering the life business with BancoEstado in September 2004, as a result of which the former took a 49.9% stake in the bank's insurance brokerage, BancoEstado Corredores de Seguros. The main focus for the next five years will be on innovation in the sense that the brokerage will propose regulatory changes that contribute to a faster development of the insurance industry.