Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. is close to setting up a joint asset management venture between its Nvest LP subsidiary and Asahi Mutual Life Insurance Co., a big Japanese insurer.

A spokesman for the New York-based insurance company said details of the deal would be announced Friday.

The venture would be the first deal of its kind between American and Japanese insurance companies and could give MetLife a foothold in Japan's financial markets.

Asahi has $101.5 billion in total assets, making it Japan's fifth- largest life insurer. MetLife ranks second among U.S. life insurers, with total assets of $172.4 billion at the end of 1997.

- Stephen Garmhausen

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