MetLife in talks to buy BBVA's Chile unit: report

Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:28am EST

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(Reuters) - MetLife Inc (MET.N), the largest U.S. life insurer, is in advanced talks to buy Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA's (BBVA.MC) Chilean pension management unit, Bloomberg reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

MetLife could sign a deal for the unit — AFP Provida SA — which has a market value of more than $2 billion, within days or weeks, the report said. link.reuters.com/gyp74t

MetLife is looking to expand its operations in emerging markets as it suffers from low interest rates in the United States and the company said earlier this month it did not expect to buy back shares in 2013.

BBVA, Spain's No.2 bank, had said in May it might sell its Latin American pension fund businesses as it looks to shed operations outside its main markets to reduce risks and meet tougher capital rules.

If MetLife is able to close the deal, it will be the second major U.S. insurer to target the region after Principal Financial Group (PFG.N) agreed in October to buy AFP Cuprum, another Chilean pension company, for $1.51 billion.

Both MetLife and BBVA declined to comment on the report.

MetLife shares were up about a percent at $33.34 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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