NU Online News Service, Jan. 9, 2004, 1:03 p.m. EST – Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Boston, has completed previously announced plans to acquire the Spanish operations of MetLife Inc., New York.[@@]

Liberty Insurance Group S.A., a Liberty unit in Spain, bought MetLife Iberia S.A., Madrid, along with MetLife Iberia’s life and non-life insurance subsidiaries.

The price of the deal was not available.

MetLife began selling life insurance and retirement savings products in Spain under the “Genesis MetLife” brand name in 1988, and it entered the Spanish auto insurance and homeowners insurance markets in 1990. Genesis MetLife now has 18 sales branch offices in Spain and one branch in Lisbon, Portugal.

Banco Santander Central Hispano S.A., Madrid, once owned a 20% stake in MetLife Genesis, but MetLife announced in July 2003 that it was buying the stake back from Santander.

MetLife executives said last summer that the company decided to sell MetLife Iberia because the unit operates in a relatively mature market and gets much of its revenue from property-casualty operations. MetLife’s international division has been emphasizing sales of life insurance and retirement savings products in developing countries.

Liberty Mutual says completing the MetLife deal has expanded its life business significantly and made it the second largest direct auto writer in the Spanish market.

Liberty Mutual entered Spain in 2001 by acquiring a company from Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, for a price that was not disclosed. Later that year, Liberty Mutual acquired a Spanish insurer from Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group P.L.C., London, for $188 million.