The American Life Insurance Co. – a unit of MetLife Inc. (MET - Analyst Report) – recently received $160 million after winning a $190 million tax case in a Tokyo court according to media reports. The amount received includes interest and penalties.
However, MetLife will have to transfer most of the amount to American International Group, Inc. (AIG - Analyst Report) as the tax case was related to unrealized foreign exchange losses on certain securities held by American Life before it was acquired by MetLife from AIG in 2010. However, MetLife will retain a portion of the winnings as a counter claim. The amount to be remitted to AIG was not revealed.
However, MetLife will incur a charge of $30 million related to the case in the first quarter of 2013. Additionally, the company will record a charge of $60–$85 million related to its exit from the banking business. The company had recorded $163 million in 2012 as costs related to exiting the banking business.
MetLife announced the receipt of the regulatory approval from the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to deregister as a bank holding company in Feb 2013. The company had been aiming to shed its banking status for about two years to get rid of the stringent regulations imposed on it as a bank holding company.
The strict oversight from the Fed had even barred the company’s capital plan of authorizing a stock repurchase program worth $2 billion and hiking its dividend to $1.10 per share from the current 74 cents per share. However, the company rapidly divested or shut down most of its banking operations last year.
Further, in Jan 2013, MetLife reached the final phase of exit from the banking business, when the regulators approved the long-pending deal with General Electric Co.’s (GE - Analyst Report) financial services unit, GE Capital Retail Bank, and sold its bank deposits worth $6.4 billion. This helped the company file for deregistration of its banking status sooner than expected.
Both MetLife and AIG currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Another multi-line insurer worth considering is CNO Financial Group, Inc. (CNO - Analyst Report), which carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).