MetLife (MET) can finally leave the banking business.
The global life insurer said Wednesday that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has conditionally approved the company's deal to sell $6.5 billion in deposits from MetLife Bank to GE Capital Retail Bank (GE), GE's consumer-lending arm.
The deal, which the companies announced a year ago, took on added urgency in March after MetLife became one of four deposit-taking institutions to fail a Federal Reserve stress test. The setback prevented the insurer from raising its dividend or buying back shares until it could demonstrate to the Fed's satisfaction how the company would handle such conditions as U.S. unemployment in excess of 13% or a contraction in gross domestic product to minus 8%.
The companies "do not have an estimate" when they expect the deal to close, MetLife spokesman John Calagna said in an email.
The depository business represented about 2% of MetLife's operating earnings in the first quarter of last year, according to the company. MetLife had previously decided to unload its bank charter because of the increased costs and demands of complying with federal regulations. MetLife will be able to de-register as a bank holding company following the sale.
In September, the companies amended the deal by substituting GE Capital Retail Bank for GE Capital Bank as the proposed buyer. The shift moved review of the proposed sale to the OCC from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which met in September without taking action on the deal.