MS&AD in talks to buy out MetLife Japan JV: source

TOKYO (BestGrowthStock) – MS&AD Insurance (8725.T: ), Japan’s largest property-casualty insurer, is in talks with MetLife Inc (MET.N: ) about buying out their Japan annuity insurance joint venture, a source close to the talks said on Thursday.

MetLife is set to acquire American Life Insurance Co (Alico) from American International Group Inc (AIG.N: ) next week, a deal which would significantly boost MetLife’s presence in Japan and other countries.

Japan is the world’s second-largest life insurance market, which accounts for as much as 70 percent of Alico’s pretax operating income.

MS&AD is in talks to buy out MetLife’s 49 percent stake in Mitsui Sumitomo MetLife Insurance, which sells annuity products through bank counters, said the source, who declined to be named because the negotiations were private.

The joint venture, which started in 2005, had revenues from premiums of 443.6 billion yen ($5.4 billion) for the year ending in March, against MS&AD’s overall net premiums of 2.52 trillion yen.

A MetLife spokesman in New York declined to comment. The company is expected to report third-quarter earnings on Thursday afternoon and may give an update on the Alico deal.

Annuity sales are a major portion of MetLife’s business. The company was the top U.S. seller of annuities in 2009 and ranked near the top of the Japanese variable annuity market as well.

MS&AD said nothing had been decided regarding the matter.

MS&AD shares fell 1.4 percent to 1,978 yen, underperforming a 0.2 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei average (.N225: ).MetLife shares were down 42 cents at $39.96 in midday New York trading.

(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka, additional reporting by Ben Berkowitz in New York; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Joseph Radford)

MS&AD in talks to buy out MetLife Japan JV: source