MetLife Inc. has started selling a large number of “common equity units” in connection with efforts to acquire Travelers Life & Annuity from Citigroup Inc.[@@]

MetLife, New York, hopes to raise $1.8 billion in financing for the deal from the common equity unit sale, and it also hopes to raise $600 million by selling floating-rate preferred stock and $1.5 billion by selling fixed-rate preferred stock.

MetLife has agreed to pay Citigroup, New York, about $11.5 billion in cash and stock for Travelers Life.

Units of Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, N.C., and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York, are coordinating the common equity unit offering.

Each unit in the offering “will consist of a fractional interest in trust preferred securities issued by subsidiary trusts of MetLife, as well as a stock purchase contract requiring the holder to purchase, and MetLife to sell, shares of MetLife common stock,” MetLife says in an announcement of the offering.

The number of shares of common stock that unit holders must buy “is to be determined upon settlement of the contract based on the market price of MetLife common stock shortly before the time of settlement,” MetLife says.

Unit holders can separate the interest in the trust preferred securities from the stock purchase contract.

MetLife expects to settle some of the stock purchase contracts about 3 years after it issues the common equity units and the rest about 6 months later, the company says.