MetLife Names Khalaf President of U.S. Unit as Morris Exits

  • Insurer hires Oliver Wyman’s Tadros to be chief risk officer
  • Clurfain to oversee EMEA from the region, report to Khalaf

MetLife Inc. named Michel Khalaf president of U.S. operations after he helped the insurer expand in Europe.

Khalaf, who joined with MetLife’s 2010 purchase of Alico, replaces Maria Morris, who led the U.S. business on an interim basis, the New York-based insurer said Thursday in a statement. Morris, 55, who is also the global head of employee benefits, will retire within months after 33 years at the company.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Kandarian, 65, is adding to the duties of some of his top managers after reshaping the company through the sale of an adviser network and announcing plans to spin off of the U.S. retail unit known as Brighthouse Financial. Marty Lippert, 57, who is head of global technology and operations for the company, was also given responsibility for MetLife Holdings, which includes the books of business that the insurer is winding down.

While Kandarian “has no plans (and is not required) to retire from his leadership role at MetLife, we think this sets up a horse race for the top spot,” Sean Dargan, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in a note to clients. Dargan said other contenders include Chief Financial Officer John Hele, Chief Investment Officer Steven Goulart, and Christopher Townsend, who leads the Asia business.

Eric Steigerwalt, who previously led MetLife’s entire U.S. operation, was named CEO of Brighthouse last year. MetLife will remain one of the largest U.S. insurers, offering coverage through the workplace and selling home and auto policies.

Khalaf, 53, will move to New York from Dubai and retain responsibility for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Senior Vice President Eric Clurfain will oversee EMEA from the region and will continue to report to Khalaf.

“Michel has been a tremendous asset to MetLife, helping to ensure the successful integration of Alico,” Kandarian said in the statement. “I also want to thank Maria for her outstanding leadership over a storied and exceptional career.”

Annual operating earnings in EMEA climbed 14 percent to $273 million last year, helped by growth in its employee-benefits and accident-and-health policies. The U.S. will remain MetLife’s biggest market, even after the Brighthouse exit.

Tadros, Lippert

MetLife also announced that Ramy Tadros will be the next chief risk officer, joining in September. Tadros, the global head of insurance at Oliver Wyman, replaces Stan Talbi, who is retiring after 43 years at MetLife, according to the statement.

“Ramy is a world-class risk manager who will help MetLife complete its transformation into a company that properly balances growth and risk while generating strong and predictable free cash flow,” Kandarian said in the statement.

MetLife gained 22 cents to $53.53 in New York trading Thursday at 10:02 a.m. The insurer is little changed this year, trailing the 8.4 percent advance of the S&P 500 Index.

Frank Cassandra, who manages the MetLife Holdings segment, will report to Lippert, the company said in the statement.

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