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MetLife Tells SEC Bank Sale on Track, But No Closing Date Set

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MetLife’s impending sale of $7.5 billion in retail banking deposits to GE Capital is still on, but an exact closing date has yet to be determined.

In a letter dated May 21 and addressed to the SEC, Matthew M. Ricciardi, chief counsel for MetLife Group, Inc., wrote that no events had arisen that would interfere with the closing of the deal, which the company had said would occur four to six months after it was originally announced late last year. MetLife further noted it was awaiting regulatory approvals.

“The company has concluded that it is no longer appropriate for it to specify the timing for obtaining the requisite regulatory approvals needed to complete the transaction,” Ricciardi wrote. Specifically, the letter stated it had not yet been advised when the pending Bank Merger Act application related to the deal would be presented to the FDIC board.

MetLife spokesperson John Calagna said in an email that the company had no additional comment beyond what was in the letter.

The MetLife correspondence was in response to a May 7 letter from Jeffrey Riedler, assistant director, division of corporate finance, at the SEC in which he asked if any events had “interfered or materially threatened the consummation of the transaction to sell the depository business.” An SEC spokesperson contacted by said the agency had no further comment on the matter.

Once MetLife exits the bank depository business it will terminate its FDIC insurance and deregister as a bank holding company.

In recent months, MetLife has set in motion several corporate changes. At a May investor conference, company officials revealed plans to scale back “capital intensive products” like variable annuities and introduce accident and health products in the U.S. Also in May, the company announced it was exiting the reverse mortgage business by selling the portfolio to Nationstar Mortgage, LLC.

In June, the Federal Reserve Board gave MetLife until September 30 to resubmit a capital plan after a previous one had failed a stress test.

John Nadel, an analyst with Sterne Agee, said in an email that the longer any deal is delayed, there is always the risk the buyer “gets fed up and walks away.” Yet he added that both GE and MetLife are accustomed to dealing with multiple regulators. “It’s my sense the Federal Reserve granted MetLife the extension to September 30 to refile their stress test under the assumption the approvals for the bank sale would be received prior to that time,” Nadel wrote.

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