MetLife considers selling mortgage business

Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:47pm EDT

The MetLife building is seen in New York, March 8, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The MetLife building is seen in New York, March 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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(Reuters) - MetLife Inc (MET.N), the largest U.S. life insurance company, said on Wednesday it might sell its traditional mortgage lending business.

Dealing with the changing mortgage lending market will divert too many resources from MetLife's insurance businesses, the company said.

MetLife has also said it might sell its depository business and de-register as a bank holding company.

MetLife Home Loans will continue to make traditional mortgages while the insurer decides whether to sell the business. The company said it will continue to service its mortgage clients.

MetLife Home Loans, a division of MetLife Bank, began making traditional mortgages and reverse mortgages in 2008.

A MetLife spokesman said it would continue to offer reverse mortgages, a business many other financial companies are exiting. He added that MetLife is "continuously evaluat(ing) all of our businesses based on market conditions and the regulatory environment."

Regulatory issues are becoming more prominent for MetLife given its potential for being tagged a "systemically important financial institution" by the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

Many analysts think it is inevitable the company will be tagged, which will bring Federal Reserve oversight and stricter controls over risk and capital.

(Reporting by Dan Wilchins and Ben Berkowitz in New York. Editing by Robert MacMillan and Steve Orlofsky)

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