MetLife Is Said to Explore Sale of Peripheral European Assets

MetLife Inc. is exploring the sale of some European assets as the U.S. life insurance giant seeks to streamline it global business, people familiar with the matter said.

New York-based MetLife is working with an adviser to explore options for units in Greece, Poland and the Ukraine, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. The businesses could be valued at more than 500 million euros ($603 million), the people said.

Any sale would likely attract rival insurers, one of the people said. Deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty they will result in any transaction, according to the people. A representative for MetLife declined to comment.

MetLife Chief Executive Officer Michel Khalaf said on a February conference call that the company was looking at pruning its portfolio of businesses. It had been in talks with Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali SpA in 2019 over the sale of European assets, only to see the negotiations fall apart due to price disagreements.

The company’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa reported adjusted earnings of $327 million in 2020, up from $282 million in 2019.

MetLife joins other insurers including Allianz SE, Aviva Plc and AXA SA in seeking to cut its exposure to certain European markets. These efforts have seen the value of mergers and acquisitions targeting the European insurance industry rise 79% to $23.5 billion over the last 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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