MetLife Extends Brazil Bet by Providing Largest Farm Loan

MetLife Inc. made its biggest Brazilian agricultural loan with a $150 million mortgage for soybean producer Amaggi Group.

The loan has a floating rate and a term of 12 years, according to a statement today from New York-based MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer.

MetLife has been seeking to add investments in Brazil, where the company sells dental and accident-and-health coverage. The company opened a Sao Paulo office two years ago in the first expansion of its agricultural lending beyond North America. Its global agricultural portfolio of more than $12 billion includes about $700 million of loans in Brazil.

The Amaggi deal is “consistent with our strategy to invest in mortgages secured by high quality real estate in major markets,” Robert Merck, senior managing director and global head of real estate for MetLife, said in the statement.

Amaggi is a closely held company controlled by the family of Brazilian Senator Blairo Maggi. It has $4 billion in sales and owns $1.5 billion of farmland, according to the statement. Messages left with Amaggi representatives weren’t immediately returned.

Brazil is the world’s top soybean exporter, and output is poised to reach a record high in the 2014-2015 season as farmers expand planting, the government forecaster said last week. The oilseed is used in everything from animal feed to fruit beverages.

MetLife has an investment portfolio of more than $505 billion, mostly in bonds. The company is among insurers seeking to diversify its portfolio at a time when fixed-income yields are near historic lows. MetLife has also announced deals this month to develop Seattle-area industrial parks and provide financing for a Copenhagen airport.

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