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MetLife to sell bank to GE Capital

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MetLife will be allowed to sell its bank to GE Capital early next year, but is still likely to be designated as systemically significant (SIFI), an insurance analyst says.

John Nadel, an analyst with Sterne, Agee & Leach, made his comment Thursday after the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) acknowledged to Nadel it had made a typographical error in saying it had postponed the deadline for giving authority to MetLife to sell the bank until March 2013.

The deadline was expected to be December 28, 60 days after MetLife completed its application to the OCC to sell the bank to GE Capital Retail Bank.

After the OCC Western Region acknowledged the error, Nadel said he now expects the sale of the bank by MetLife to be approved this year, and for the Fed to soon after exempt MetLife from having to submit so-called “stress test” data to the Federal Reserve Board by January 7, 2013.

MetLife wants the bank to be sold so it would be free from the constraints imposed by the Fed on raising its dividend and buying back shares after MetLife failed this year’s stress test.

Nadel said he expects the sale of the bank to be completed sometime in early 2013, but that despite the sale of the bank, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) is expected sometime next year to still designate MetLife as a SIFI and therefore still subject it to Fed oversight.

Earlier, Nadel said he believed the Fed may be rethinking the use of bank metrics in regulating insurance companies.

“I don’t believe the Fed intends to force insurance companies designated as systemically significant into the bank stress test model and metrics without at least some adjustments to reflect some of the key differences in their business models (duration of liabilities, lower liquidity risk, etc.),” he said.

MetLife had originally applied to the Fed, as the regulator of bank holding companies, to sell the bank, but, after numerous delays, had submitted a somewhat different application to the OCC to sell the bank. That is the application that is still pending.

Analysts believe that American International Group, perhaps as early as December, will be the included in the first batch of non-banks designated as SIFI.

Analysts also say that MetLife and Prudential are amongst the other non-banks the FSOC is evaluating as potential SIFIs.


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