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MetLife Clears SEC Hurdle for Brighthouse Spinoff

By Warren S. Hersch July 7, 2017

MetLife’s spinoff of Brighthouse Financial advanced this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission's approval of securities to be traded under the Brighthouse name.

The SEC has declared effective Brighthouse's registration statement on SEC Form 10 (which discloses the new company's business details and divestiture from MetLife), clearing the way for Brighthouse’s listing on the technology-heavy NASDAQ stock exchange. NASDAQ earlier okayed the listing of the company’s stock under the symbol “BHF.”

To take effect on July 19, the spinoff calls for shareholders of MetLife common stock (traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “MET”) to receive one share of Brighthouse common stock for every 11 shares of MetLife they hold. The carrier expects that shares will be distributed on August 7.

Last week, MetLife secured approval for the Brighthouse spinoff from Delaware state insurance regulators, and MetLife’s board of directors formally okayed the plan. The spinoff will make Brighthouse one of the largest U.S. life insurers and annuity sellers, with 1.3 million life insurance policyholders and 1.5 million annuity owners, The Wall Street Journal reports.

As reported, MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian has pointed to several operational milestones the two companies had already hit toward the spinoff. These include (1) Brighthouse beginning to operate as an independent entity under MetLife in January; (2) Brighthouse conducting business under its own name in March; and (3) the rollout of the first Brighthouse broadcast and advertising campaign in April.

The company also launched its first product under the Brighthouse brand in May. Henceforth, Brighthouse will direct product distribution through securities brokerages, financial advisers and other external sales channels.

MetLife announced plans to separate its retail life insurance business in early 2016. The divestiture will enable the New York-based behemoth to focus on group benefits and other businesses that require lower capital intensity and that generate higher free cash flow.

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