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MetLife Says Loss Is at Least $350 Million on Unit Sale

The MetLife Inc. headquarters building stands in New York. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, said it will record a loss of $350 million to $390 million on the sale of a U.K. annuity unit to Rothesay Life Ltd.

The cost of divesting MetLife Assurance Ltd. will be included in first-quarter results, the New York-based insurer said yesterday in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rothesay, whose investors include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Blackstone Group LP and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, said Feb. 18 that it was buying the unit as part of its expansion in the U.K. retirement business, adding about 3 billion pounds ($5 billion) of assets under management. MetLife Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian is absorbing the loss as he narrows the company’s focus.

“MetLife is pulling back from capital-intensive products as it prepares to comply with new regulatory capital requirements,” Kathleen Shanley, an analyst at Gimme Credit LLC, said in a Feb. 20 research note.

The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter, MetLife said today. Terms weren’t disclosed.

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