MetLife Inc. will pay around $1.7 billion to eligible life insurance participating policyholders in 2007, the company announced.

The company announced it will make the payout as dividends to eligible policyholders of its life insurance subsidiaries Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New England Life Insurance Company and General Life Insurance Company.

The payout is one of the largest in the company’s history, said Lisa M. Weber, president for individual business of MetLife, New York

Eligible policyholders include MetLife clients with in force permanent life insurance policies, primarily whole life policies and certain term life insurance, sold by the companies’ MetLife and New England Financial sales force and in the independent distribution channel.