(Bloomberg) – MetLife Inc. and Principal Financial Group Inc., U.S. insurers that have expanded in Chile with takeovers, are targeting Latin America for additional growth.
“In the case of Brazil, we think that we need to gain more scale,” Roberto Walker, president of Latin America for Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal’s international operation, said Wednesday at an investor meeting. “We are always very actively looking for strategic acquisitions, particularly in the case of asset management and mutual funds.” He said the approach also applies in Mexico.
Principal and New York-based MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer, are increasingly counting on emerging markets. Both companies held events in Santiago Wednesday focusing on opportunities in Latin America to benefit from the growing number of middle class and affluent savers as governments push for privately managed retirement accounts.
“We’ve grown by acquisitions, and we’ll continue to do that,” Bill Wheeler, head of the Americas atMetLife, told analysts. “But we’ve also grown organically.”
MetLife Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian has expanded in Latin America and Asia to add fee income while retreating from some capital-intensive businesses like U.S. variable annuities. His company bought Chilean pension-fund manager AFP Provida SA in 2013 for about $2 billion, and in 2010 MetLife spent $16 billion for American Life Insurance Co., which had operations in more than 50 countries.