MetLife deemed 'systemically significant' by regulators

Financial regulators decided Thursday that the insurance company MetLife is critical to the financial system and merits more rigorous oversight.

The company confirmed the verdict in a statement and said it was weighing whether to pursue legal action to challenge it.

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The decision was handed down by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a collection of top financial regulators charged with determining what institutions pose threats to the entire financial system and assigning them closer regulatory scrutiny.

But MetLife, the fourth nonbank to receive the “systemically significant” label, argued it had presented “substantial and compelling evidence" to the regulators to argue it did not merit the heightened treatment. The FSOC preliminarily designated MetLife in September, and the company had already appealed the decision to the FSOC directly.

“We are disappointed in the FSOC decision,” said the company. “Under the Dodd-Frank Act, MetLife now has 30 days to seek judicial review of FSOC’s decision. The company will carefully review the designation rationale as it considers its next steps.”

MetLife joins American International Group and Prudential as the third insurance company to be deemed systemically significant. The financing arm of General Electric, as well as several major Wall Street institutions, have also received the label.

The FSOC did not make any formal announcement of a designation Thursday, but a Treasury spokesperson indicated that more information regarding any potential designation could be coming soon.

“Consistent with the Council’s interpretive guidance, any vote on a final designation is generally announced to the public the following business day, to allow the company to prepare any public disclosures and communications," the spokesperson said.

This post updated at 5:26 pm.