MetLife to sell retail deposits to GE Capital

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NORWALK, Connecticut (AP) — MetLife said Tuesday it plans to sell its U.S. retail deposit business to GE Capital as it moves away from being a bank holding company.

Financial terms were not disclosed. MetLife Inc., which offers insurance and employee benefit programs, said in July that it was exploring the sale of its banking operations to focus on its other business.

GE Capital’s banking business, GE Capital Financial, will acquire $7.5 billion in deposits. About $3 billion in other deposits are not part of the deal, but will be transferred out of MetLife Bank in the next six months. It has not yet been determined where the $3 billion will be transferred, said company spokesman John Calagna.

GE Capital says the deal fits its plans to launch a U.S. deposit platform.

MetLife Bank began operating in 2001, offering retail savings products via the Internet.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

Banks are facing tighter regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed last year. Named for former Sen. Christopher Dodd and outgoing Rep. Barney Frank, the new law was written to overhaul the financial system and curb practices that were blamed for the financial crisis.

Some companies such as MetLife have sought to end banking practices to avoid dealing with the tighter laws. Allstate Corp. has moved to shut down its banking operations by the first half of 2012.

GE Capital is a unit of General Electric Co.

MetLife shares rose 40 cents to $31.50 in afternoon trading. GE shares fell 14 cents to $18.09.