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MS&AD Said in Talks to Buy MetLife Stake in Japan Joint Venture

MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest casualty insurer, is in talks to buy MetLife Inc.’s stake in their insurance joint venture, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

MS&AD plans to buy the 49 percent stake of the annuity insurance venture, Mitsui Sumitomo MetLife Insurance Co., held by the U.S. insurer, effectively dissolving its partnership with MetLife, the person said, declining to be identified because the information is private. The joint venture had 3.1 trillion yen ($38 billion) in assets at the end of March and earned premium income of 443.6 billion yen last fiscal year, according to the firm.

The end of the partnership comes after MetLife, the biggest U.S. life insurer, agreed in March to buy American Life Insurance Co., a non-U.S. unit of American International Group Inc. known as Alico, for about $15.5 billion. That deal, set to be completed in November, will give New York-based MetLife an additional 12,500 employees and 20 million customers in Japan.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported earlier today that the two companies would dissolve their partnership. MS&AD said in a statement nothing has been decided.

Hideto Sakamoto, a spokesman at Mitsui Sumitomo MetLife Insurance, declined to comment. John Calagna, a spokesman for the New York-based insurer, could not be reached for comments outside of normal business hours.

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