| April 23
April 23 MetLife Inc, the largest U.S.
life insurer, raised its quarterly dividend for the first time
since 2007, sending its shares up as much as 7 percent on
MetLife received approval from the Federal Reserve in
February to drop its status as a bank holding company, freeing
the insurer from the central bank's scrutiny and allowing it to
raise its dividend or buy back shares.
The Fed had blocked MetLife from raising its dividend or
returning capital to shareholders after the company failed a Fed
stress test in March 2012.
MetLife raised its second-quarter dividend by 9 cents, or
almost 50 percent, to 27.5 cents per share.
The company had paid an annual dividend of 74 cents per
share since 2007. It paid its first-ever quarterly dividend, of
18.5 cents per share, in the first quarter of this year.
MetLife's shares have been little changed since the February
announcement because it is widely expected to be designated a
non-bank SIFI, or systemically important financial institution.
If designated a SIFI by a U.S. government panel, the company
would be subject to continued Fed oversight as it would be
deemed "too big to fail".
"I think the timing is a little interesting ... I think they
feel they needed to return capital before their hands are tied,"
Morningstar analyst Vincent Lui said.
Steven Schwartz, an analyst at Raymond James, said he
assumed the company expected to be named a SIFI.
"The company is saying 'we are comfortable enough with the
rules, as we understand they might be as of today, that we can
at least deploy this amount regularly,'" he said.
MetLife shares closed 5 percent higher at $37.74 on the New
York Stock Exchange.
The company is scheduled to report first-quarter results on