Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York said Thursday that it is buying GenAmerica Corp. of St. Louis, the parent of the troubled General American Life Insurance Co., for $1.2 billion.

GenAmerica, which has $29 billion of assets and stakes in Reinsurance Group of America and Conning Corp., had been under protection of the Missouri Department of Insurance since Aug. 11 after rating-agency downgrades spurred many investors to redeem short-term (bond) funding agreements.

The problems arose after ARM Financial of Louisville reported a $173 million loss related to General American's funding business. General American then reclaimed $3.4 billion of the agreements.

Robert H. Benmosche, MetLife's chief executive, said GenAmerica's strong Midwestern presence and array of products would complement MetLife's operation. Under the agreement, which must be approved by Missouri's director of insurance, GenAmerica would retain its name and continue to have its headquarters in St. Louis. -- Michael O'D. Moore

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