(Bloomberg) — MetLife Inc., the biggest U.S. life insurer by assets, was labeled a systemically important financial institution (SIFI) by a council of regulators and said it will consider whether to sue the government over the decision.
The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) voted to designate New York-based MetLife a SIFI, the insurer said today in a statement. The ruling subjects MetLife to stricter Federal Reserve oversight that could include tougher capital, leverage and liquidity requirements. The company can appeal in U.S. district court within 30 days.
“We continue to believe that MetLife is not systemically important,” the insurer said in the statement. “The company will carefully review the designation rationale as it considers its next steps.”
The council proposed the designation in September by a 9-0 vote, with former Kentucky insurance regulator Roy Woodall voting “present.” Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian had said that the company “strongly disagrees” and wasn’t ruling out “any of the available remedies” to contest the designation. MetLife challenged the decision at a Nov. 3 hearing.
The company has insisted that it wouldn’t pose a risk to the broader financial system even if it were to fail, and Kandarian has called the insurance industry a source of stability. MetLife, based in New York, didn’t take a bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.