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Met Life To Invest $1 Billion In South Korean Life Insurer.

National Underwriter Life & Health-Financial Services Edition June 15, 1998 | D’allegro, Joseph As part of a general effort to focus on high-growth markets, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company last week signed a preliminary letter of understanding with Korea Life Insurance allowing it to spend up to $1 billion to purchase as much as 60 percent of the South Korean firm.

The move fits in with Met Life’s global repositioning strategy, said spokesman Kevin Foley “South Korea offers significant growth potential,” he said. adding that the move was spurred by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung’s economic reform efforts. go to site met life dental

The South Korean life insurance market is the sixth largest in the world, said Yousin Chang, an analyst at A.M. Best Company, Old wick, N.J. He said South Korea’s life insurance market could grow more than 10 percent a year once its current economic troubles are checked, which he expects will happen next year.

Met Life’s restructuring has focused on long-term investing, said Martha Butler, who tracks the insurer as vice president of the insurance group at Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Company in Chicago. She added that Met Life seeks to control at least 5 percent of the insurance markets it enters as well as rank among the top five insurers in those markets. Korea Life is South Korea’s second-largest life insurer, she noted. go to web site met life dental

The potential deal with Korea Life, which is expected to finalize over the next two months with corporate and government approvals, comes two months after Met Life announced it had increased its ownership in KolonMet Life Insurance Company in Seoul from 51 percent to 100 percent.

Met Life also sold its United Kingdom and Canadian life insurance and pension businesses in recent months because it saw those markets as mature and it lacked significant market share, Mr. Foley said. He added that much of Asia offers growth potential, but would not comment on the firm’s plans in the area. Met already has a presence in China and Indonesia.

In related news, Metropolitan signed a preliminary agreement to sell its Mexican pension management unit, AFORE Genesis Metropolitan, to AFORE Santander Mexicano. Neither firm would discuss the terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the next few months, pending approval from the Mexican government.

The sale allows Met Life to focus more on its Mexican life insurance and annuity businesses, Mr. Foley said, lie declined to comment on the company’s future plans for Latin America, saving they were still under review. Met Life already has a large insurance presence in Argentina, has just begun operations in Brazil, and has applied for a license in Uraguay.

The acquisition will increase Santander Mexicano’s share of the Mexican pension market from 14.5 percent to 15.6 percent, said Santander spokesman Michael Mandelbaum.

D’allegro, Joseph