Michel A. Khalaf, president, U.S. Business and EMEA, will become MetLife’s president and chief executive officer on May 1, 2019. Khalaf also has been appointed to the MetLife board effective May 1 Michael Khalaf (Photo: MetLife)

The board of MetLife Inc. today announced that Michel Khalaf will take over from Steven Kandarian as the company’s president and chief executive officer May 1.

Khalaf has been the president of MetLife’s U.S. business since July 2017.

(Related: Steven Kandarian to Lead MetLife)

Glenn Hubbard, MetLife’s independent lead director and a former chairman of the federal Council of Economic Advisors, will become the company’s chairman, according to the MetLife board.

Kandarian has been MetLife’s president and CEO since May 2012.

Kandarian said in a statement that he believes Khalaf has the knowledge and leadership skills to shape MetLife.

“The financial services landscape continues to evolve rapidly, and Michel is the right executive to continue to lead MetLife’s transformation into a company that is continually innovating to meet customer expectations and create significant shareholder.

Steven Kandarian

Kandarian succeeded C. Robert Henrikson, MetLife’s previous CEO, after Henrikson turned 65 and reached the company’s mandatory executive retirement age.

Kandarian previously served as MetLife’s chief investment officer, starting in 2005. He emphasized the importance of diversifying the company’s investment portfolio, and he helped make the decision to sell the giant Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town Development in New York City for $5.4 billion in 2006, shortly before the start of the Great Recession.

As MetLife’s CEO, he led a successful effort to keep the federal Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) from imposing an extra layer of regulation on MetLife through the systemically important financial institution (SIFI) designation program.

Kandarian also led efforts to split off the company’s individual life and annuity operation, to form Brighthouse Financial Inc.

Michel Khalaf

Khalaf has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business from Syracuse University. He holds the fellow of the Life Management Institute professional designation.

He entered the insurance industry through the investment department at a unit of American International Group Inc. in 1989. He joined MetLife as a result of MetLife’s acquisition of Alico. He has been president of the Europe, Middle East and Africa business that MetLife acquired from AIG since 2011

(Related: Freitag to Oversee Lincoln Life Unit: Insurance People)

Since Khalaf took over as head of the U.S. business, he has overseen the company’s U.S. group benefits, retirement and income solutions, and property-casualty businesses in the United States.

Khalaf is a member of the board of the American Council of Life Insurers.

Khalaf has also managed Alico and MetLife operations in Egypt, Poland and the Philippines.

Before July 2017, Khalaf was living in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, according to a 2013 MetLife Foundation filing.

MetLife noted in an international assignment letter of understanding filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that Khalaf was working in the United States under an L1-A visa, and that it considered his home country to be the United Arab Emirates.

In a new SEC filing, MetLife said it has set Khalaf’s base pay at $1.2 million. The company is also providing relocation and tax-equalization benefits related to Khalaf’s move to the United States.

The company said it will pay Hubbard $250,000, on topic of his general director retainer fees, to serve as chairman.

— Read MetLife Wins Epic Battle With Federal Regulatorson ThinkAdvisor.

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