NU Online News Service, July 17, 8:03 p.m. – MetLife Inc., New York, says it will be combining its U.S. individual and institutional insurance businesses.

C. Robert Henrikson, who has been president of MetLife’s institutional business since 1996, will be the head of the new, combined U.S. division, MetLife says.

James Benson, the head of the individual business, will be retiring, MetLife adds.

The “financial management and control functions” of the institutional and the individual businesses will report to Stewart Nagler, MetLife’s chief financial officer.

The company predicts in an earnings forecast accompanying the consolidation announcement that it will have operating earnings of at least 63 cents per share for the second quarter, but it notes that operating earnings exclude net realized investment gains and losses.

MetLife did not immediately give details about its second-quarter investment performance, or information about whether the consolidation of the individual and institutional businesses will lead to layoffs or special charges.

MetLife does say the consolidation will “streamline the organization” and “provide greater cost savings.”

MetLife expects to report its earnings Aug. 5.

MetLife Chairman Robert Benmosche says he hopes the restructuring will help the company persuade more workers who participate in MetLife’s employee benefits programs to buy MetLife’s individual insurance products at the worksite.