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&Rating Firm Keeps MetLife On Credit Watch

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Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Inc., New York, will keep MetLife Inc. on credit watch with negative implications, the rating agency says.

The decision follows a review of MetLife’s recent announcement of its planned acquisition of Citigroup Inc.’s Travelers Life & Annuity Co. business.

The ratings were placed on credit watch with negative implications Jan. 31, following MetLife’s announcement of the acquisition.

S&P still has concerns that the proposed financial plan will add intermediate-term stress incrementally on cash coverage of fixed charges.

“In addition to reduced coverage levels, given the scale of the merger, there remains execution risk from both an operational and financing perspective,” says S&P credit analyst Kevin Ahern.

The maintenance of Travelers’ successful distribution relationships will be critical to reducing the level of execution risk at an operational level.

“Headway in achieving the financing plan, which anticipates about $8 billion of debt and equity issuance, is important to mitigating financing risk,” Ahern added.

MetLife has S&P’s “A” long-term counterparty credit rating and an “AA” long-term counterparty credit and financial strength rating on its wholly owned life insurance subsidiaries.

S&P said that any change in the ratings that will take place upon the successful completion of the merger will be limited to one notch.


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