(Bloomberg) – MetLife Inc. beat back a U.S. attempt to label it too big to fail, which would’ve put America’s biggest life insurer under tougher government scrutiny and forced it to put more money in reserves.
A federal judge in Washington struck down the designation on Wednesday, rejecting the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s rationale for classifying the company as a systemically important financial institution. The reasons for the ruling were sealed by the judge.
The ruling undercuts the foundation of the Obama administration’s plan to more heavily regulate four non-bank businesses it determined had the potential to destabilize the American financial system. MetLife had called the designation arbitrary and unjustified. Chief Executive Officer Steve Kandarian said earlier this year that his New York-based company will shed much of its domestic retail business because SIFI put it at a “significant competitive disadvantage.”
MetLife jumped 6 percent to $45.01 at 10:41 a.m. in New York trading. Prudential Financial Inc., which is the second-largest U.S. life insurer and was also named a non-bank SIFI, advanced 4.3 percent to $74.59.
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Randy Clerihue, a spokesman for New York-based MetLife, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.