May 23, 2012 / 5:28 AM / 7 years ago

MetLife to outline growth plan, eyes emerging markets

The MetLife building is seen in New York, March 8, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - MetLife Inc (MET.N), the largest U.S. life insurer, said it plans to refocus its U.S. business and will seek to grow in emerging markets as part of a strategic plan that is set to be unveiled later on Wednesday.

By 2016, MetLife said it expects to increase its return on equity to between 12 percent and 14 percent, and will aim for emerging markets to account for 20 percent or more of total operating earnings.

“We have identified significant opportunities for us to continue our growth in a way that is disciplined, meets consumer needs and will position us to achieve return on equity expansion,” Chief Executive Steven Kandarian said in a statement.

MetLife is one of a number of companies that have submitted first round bids for the Asia life insurance business of ING, sources have told Reuters. The company boosted its presence in international markets in late 2010 when it bought Alico from AIG.

In the United States, the insurer said it would shift its business mix toward protection products, such as accident and health products, and away from more capital intensive products in an effort to generate more predictable cash flows.

MetLife, which will hold an investor conference on Wednesday, also said it expected to achieve $600 million in net pre-tax expense savings by 2016.

The company last month posted a $174 million loss for the first quarter on derivative losses tied to a rise in interest rates, but operating results beat expectations. Its strongest growth came in Asia and Latin America.

(This version of the story corrects the day in first and sixth paragraphs to Wednesday from Monday)

Reporting by Sakthi Prasad; Editing by Richard Pullin

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