April 10, 2007 / 6:20 AM / 12 years ago

U.S. MetLife says to partner Bank of Shanghai

SHANGHAI, April 10 (Reuters) - MetLife’s (MET.N) China venture said on Tuesday it will partner with Bank of Shanghai to boost its insurance sales in the country.

United MetLife Insurance Company Co., a 50/50 joint venture between MetLife, the top U.S. life insurer, and Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd., will sell its insurance products through counters of the country’s biggest city commercial lender, it said in an emailed statement.

Bank of Shanghai, in which HSBC Holdings Plc. (HSBA.L)(0005.HK) holds 8 percent, currently operates more than 200 outlets in China, mostly in Shanghai, one of the country’s most wealthy cities.

MetLife has already teamed up with Chinese banks, including Industrial and Commercial Bank (601398.SS)(1398.HK) and Pudong Development Bank (600000.SS), to help the New York-based insurer sell policies in China, United MetLife’s chief executive Bob Pei told Reuters in January.

Pei had said MetLife is also in talks with Citigroup Inc. (C.N) for such a sales partnership in China.

MetLife became the largest life insurer in the United States after purchasing Travelers Life & Annuity from Citigroup for $11.8 billion in July 2005.

Shanghai-based United MetLife was launched in 2006 with the help of Shanghai Alliance, a major investment arm of the Shanghai city government. Shanghai Alliance is run by Jiang Mianheng, son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

((Reporting by George Chen, editing by Rachael Barker; george.chen@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging: george.chen.reuters.com@reuters.net; +86 21 6104 1795)) Keywords: METLIFE BANKOFSHANGHAI

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