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MetLife Seeks CFO, Asia Head as Wheeler Takes New Post

MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, is seeking a new chief financial officer and head of its Asia business as Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian reshapes management.

William Wheeler, who was appointed CFO in 2003, has been named president of the new Americas division, the New York-based insurer said today in a statement. Michel Khalaf will lead Europe, the Middle East and Africa. William Toppeta, who had run non-U.S. operations, plans to retire.

Kandarian is divesting banking assets and reorganizing management after taking over in May for Robert Henrikson, who acquired American Life Insurance Co. last year for about $16 billion to expand outside the U.S. The Asia segment will report to Kandarian while he seeks an executive to lead the operation.

The insurer “needs an organizational structure that leverages the best of both MetLife and Alico,” Kandarian, 59, said in the statement.

The division into three regions, each with its own president, replaces a system in which Toppeta ran international operations and William Mullaney led the U.S. business.

“Mullaney has decided that this was the right time to pursue other opportunities outside of MetLife,” according to the statement.

Asia, Latin America

Mullaney had worked for MetLife for about 29 years. He headed the institutional business before being named in 2009 to lead the U.S. segment.

MetLife is focusing on growth in Asia, Latin America and Europe after Henrikson described the U.S. last year as a “relatively slow-growth” market. About half the company’s earnings outside its home country come from Japan, the insurer said in a conference call in September.

Khalaf had been an executive at Alico, where he had roles as operations manager in Egypt and as a regional vice president with responsibilities in Poland, Romania and the Baltic states.

Wheeler began working at MetLife in 1997 as a senior vice president. Executive Vice President Eric Steigerwalt was named interim CFO.

Maria R. Morris was named to head a new global employee benefits unit. Morris will continue to oversee the Alico integration through the middle of next year.

MetLife fell 2.4 percent to $29.90 at 4 p.m. in New York. The insurer is down about 33 percent this year, compared with a 5.1 percent drop in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index.

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