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MetLife objects to SIFI designation by FSOC

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MetLife Inc. reacted negatively to a decision by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) naming the insurer a non-bank systemically important financial institution or SIFI.

“We are disappointed in the FSOC decision,” MetLife said today in a press statement. “We continue to believe that MetLife is not systemically important under the Dodd-Frank Act’s criteria, and the company has presented substantial and compelling evidence to FSOC to support this conclusion.

In a securities filing submitted earlier this year, MetLife challenged the FSOC’s preliminary designation of MetLife as a SIFI. Among the company’s arguments: that the imposition of bank-centric capital rules the company will making buying insurance products more difficult for consumers by making offerings less price-competitive.

In being labeled a SIFI, MetLife joins two other life insurers now subject to the FSOC’s capital requirements: American International Group and Prudential Financial. The FSOC has designated GE Capital as a non-bank SIFI.

Following a review by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), the Financial Stability Board also labeled MetLife a global systemically important insurer. AIG and Prudential have also been tagged with this designation.

“As we have said many times, singling out two large life insurance companies for SIFI designation will harm competition, lead to higher prices and less choice for consumers, and ultimately could result in less financial protection for middle-class families – who need it the most,” MetLife says in its statement. “FSOC has a superior regulatory tool at its disposal if necessary – an approach based on identifying and regulating activities that pose systemic risk irrespective of the size or type of entity that engages in them.

“FSOC has already embraced this activities-based approach for the asset management industry but has rejected it for the life insurance industry,” MetLife adds. “Under the Dodd-Frank Act, MetLife now has 30 days to seek judicial review of FSOC’s decision. The company will carefully review the designation rationale as it considers its next steps.”

A U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson separately issued the following statement:

Consistent with the Council’s interpretive guidance, any vote on a final designation is generally announced to the public the following business day, to allow the company to prepare any public disclosures and communications.”


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