MetLife Gets AMMB Unit Stakes in $249 Million Deal

MetLife Inc. reached a deal with Malaysia’s AMMB Holdings Bhd. to pay $249 million for stakes in life insurers as the largest U.S. provider of the coverage targets growth in emerging markets.

MetLife will own just more than half of AmLife Insurance Berhad and just less than half of AmFamily Takaful Berhad, the New York-based company said today in a statement. The agreement, which is subject to regulatory approval, includes a 20-year deal for products to be sold via AMMB’s bank subsidiaries.

MetLife Chief Executive Officer Steve Kandarian, 61, is seeking to generate at least 20 percent of operating profit from emerging markets by 2016, compared with 14 percent in 2012. The firm this year paid about $2 billion for a Chilean pension provider and announced a joint venture to sell life insurance in Vietnam.

Today’s deal “advances MetLife’s strategy to capitalize on growth opportunities in emerging markets, and further expands our footprint into fast growing and profitable South East Asia insurance markets,” Chris Townsend, president of MetLife’s Asia region, said in the statement.

AMMB, based in Kuala Lumpur, owns Malaysia’s fifth-largest bank, with 187 branches and more than 4 million retail customers, according to today’s statement. Malaysia, with a population of 29 million, had gross national income of about $9,800 per person last year, according to the World Bank.

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