A public hearing on Brighthouse Financial’s request was held on May 25, 2017
On June 22, 2017, the Division of Insurance issued its decision, F2017-01, with regards to Brighthouse Financial’s request to acquire New England Life. For those unfamiliar with Brighthouse Financial, it is a new company that is essentially a rebranding of Met Life’s U.S. Retail Business. In its decision, entitled “In the Matter of the Proposed Acquisition of Control of New England Life Insurance Company By Brighthouse Financial, Inc. and Brighthouse Holdings, LLC, Docket No. F2017-01, DOI Presiding Officer, Kristina A. Gasson wrote:
We find and conclude, for all of the reasons set forth above, that the proposed Acquisition of Control of the New England Life Insurance Company, a Massachusetts domiciled insurer, by Brighthouse Financial, Inc. and Brighthouse Holdings, LLC complies with the requirements of M.G.L. c. 175, § 206B and is not prejudicial to the policyholders or to the insuring public. The Division hereby authorizes the Proposed Acquisition, subject to the conditions in Section V of this decision.
Since the proposed acquisition of New England Life is part of a series of “multi- jurisdictional transactions”, the DOI included the caveat “…subject to the conditions in Section V…”
The acquisition is part of MetLife’s restructuring plan in the U.S.
The proposed acquisition of New England Life is part of the overall restructuring plan that MetLife, Inc. is undertaking within its U.S. retail operations. In July of 2016, MetLife announced the creation of Brighthouse Financial, as an independent standalone company, owning all of MetLife’s then existing U.S. retail life and annuity business. Brighthouse Financial focuses on life insurance and annuity sales and development in the United States.
As a result, part of that plan includes the acquisition of New England Life, which was acquired by MetLife back in 1995. As a result of the approved acquisition, Brighthouse Financial now becomes the ultimate parent company of New England Life.
Why the Division must approve the acquisition
Like the original acquisition of New England Life by MetLife, the Division of Insurance must approve the acquisition of the domiciled stock life insurer. Part of that approval process includes the holding of a public hearing pursuant to M.G.L. c. 175, §206B to determine whether or not to approve the proposed acquisition of control. A public hearing also affords any persons with an interest (as identified in M.G.L. c. 175, §206B (d)(2)) “…the opportunity to exercise the rights identified as in that section.”