MetLife Shelves 148-Year-Old U.S. Retail Brand for ‘Brighthouse’

  • Snoopy to stay with MetLife, routinely reviewed: spokeswoman
  • Brighthouse reflects simplicity, transparency, company says

MetLife Inc., the New York-based insurer that traces its roots to the 1860s, said it’s come up with a new name for a U.S. retail unit that’s slated for separation.

The business will be known as Brighthouse Financial once it’s broken off from the parent company, MetLife said Thursday in a statement. MetLife said in January that it would pursue a spinoff, sale or initial public offering for the unit and hasn’t yet announced which path it will take.

The insurer is seeking to give a fresh identity to the U.S. operation that offers annuities and life policies to individuals, a business which will be led by Eric Steigerwalt. MetLife Chief Executive Officer Steve Kandarian is working to reshape the parent company to free up cash and focus on operations in Asia and Latin America and the business selling insurance through employers.

“As a separate entity, Brighthouse will benefit from greater focus and more flexibility in products and operations,” Kandarian said in the statement. “This separation will also bring significant benefits to MetLife as we focus even more intently on our group business in the U.S., where we have long been the market leader, as well as on our international operations.”

Voya, Synchrony

Financial firms have been forced to rebrand operations as businesses reorganize. Voya Financial Inc. took that name after being separated from Dutch bank ING Groep NV. And General Electric Co. rebranded a consumer-lending operation as Synchrony Financial and then spun it off.

“Our optimistic outlook on what we will create for people’s financial futures, coupled with our guiding principles of simplicity and transparency, are captured in our name, Brighthouse,” Steigerwalt said in the statement.

Kandarian’s company traces its roots to a company that insured Civil War soldiers and sailors against wartime disabilities. MetLife opened for business in 1868, according to a history on the company’s website.

MetLife has been recognizable for years by the Snoopy and Peanuts characters it uses for marketing. That branding will stay at MetLife after the split, and the firm routinely evaluates their use, according to Meghan Lantier, a spokeswoman for the company. She said the company intends to keep the MetLife name on the football stadium used by the New York Jets and New York Giants.

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