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Snoopy Cashes In

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Securities analysts are wondering what MetLife Inc. will do with the billions it hopes to get from the proposed sale of 2 major New York real estate developments.

A venture formed by Tishman Speyer Properties Inc., New York, and Black Rock Inc., New York, has agreed to pay $5.4 billion to buy Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village from MetLife, New York.

The deal is attracting significant local media attention.

Tishman Speyer President Jerry Speyer has tried to reassure the residents of the 11,232 Stuyvesant/Cooper apartments. “The thousands of tenants in rent-stabilized apartments are completely protected by the existing system,” Speyer says. “No one should be concerned about a sudden or dramatic shift in this neighborhood’s make-up, character or charm.”

Securities analysts have greeted the proposed deal with references to Snoopy, MetLife’s famous spokesdog, and speculation about what MetLife might do with the cash from the proposed deal.

Andrew Kligerman, a securities analyst at UBS Investment Research, New York, says closing costs and local taxes would leave MetLife with a $2.85 billion net gain.

MetLife may not use the deal proceeds to expand share repurchase programs much beyond current levels, because “management has been openly talking expectations down with respect to buyback” programs, according to John Nadel and Jason Zucker, securities analysts in the New York office of Fox-Pitt, Kelton.

Saul Martinez, an analyst at Bear, Stearns & Company Inc., New York, says MetLife could pump up profits simply by putting the cash from the proposed Stuyvesant/Cooper sale into bonds. But, “we believe that MetLife may seek opportunistic acquisitions in various businesses, including group insurance and in select non-U.S. markets,” Martinez writes.


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