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MetLife discloses $1 billion of Russia, Ukraine investments

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(Bloomberg) — MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, said    it has about $1 billion in investments in Russia and Ukraine amid a conflict among the European nations.

Cash and investments in Russia totaled $914 million as of June 30, New York-based MetLife said today in a quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Investments were $106 million in Ukraine. The holdings in the countries were mainly local sovereign debt and corporate bonds.

The insurer expanded outside the U.S. with the $16 billion purchase of American Life Insurance Co. in 2010. MetLife’s portfolio of $505 billion included available-for-sale investments of $119 billion in foreign corporate and sovereign debt as of June 30. MetLife added disclosure for the two countries and Argentina to a section of its filing that already listed holdings for nations like Greece and Portugal.

MetLife provides updates “where there have been changes in the political, regulatory environment,” John Calagna, a spokesman for the company said in an e-mail. “The purpose of this particular update is to address the current situations in these three countries and to point out they don’t have a material adverse effect” on the company’s financial condition.

The insurer said last week that results have been pressured in Russia, which has faced sanctions from the U.S. and other nations in a bid to halt President Vladimir Putin’s backing of rebels in Ukraine.

Expense Structure

“Our overall growth in the region is below the level that we expected to be at,” said Michel Khalaf, who oversees the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. “We are seeing an impact, but we are also able to adjust our expense structure. So as long as the impact is short-term it is not impacting our bottom line in Russia.”

American International Group Inc., which sold Alico to MetLife and offers property-casualty coverage in Russia, said this week that credit exposure in the country was $479 million on June 30. That’s less than the New York-based insurer’s exposure to municipal obligations in at least 13 U.S. states, including Georgia and Virginia.

MetLife also disclosed $652 million of investments in Argentina, which was declared to be in default last month after missing an interest payment on its debt.

–With assistance from Steve Dickson and Kelly Gilblom in New York.

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