* Deal signed in late 2011
* Amended in September for faster approval
* MetLife aims to return cash to investors
Dec 12 The Office of the Comptroller of the
Currency has approved MetLife's sale of its deposit-taking
business to a unit of General Electric Co's GE Capital,
MetLife Inc said on Wednesday.
The long-delayed approval brings MetLife, the largest life
insurer in the United States, one step closer to shedding its
banking business and its bank holding charter.
GE Capital and MetLife first struck a deal in late 2011, but
regulatory reviews have held it up since. In September they
restructured the sale so that the OCC would be the regulator to
approve the deal, and not the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Analysts said at the time that the FDIC was slowing the deal
down with inquires to GE and that switching to the OCC might
mean a faster approval.
After the sale closes, MetLife said it will move to
deregister as a bank holding company. Because it holds that
charter, it has been subject to oversight by the Federal
The Fed blocked MetLife's plans to buy back shares and raise
its dividends in March 2012 after the company failed a stress
test, one designed for banks and not insurers.
Since then, MetLife has been working to get the bank sale
closed and rid itself of the charter so it could return cash to