Seeking to leverage its extensive investment in real estate, commercial mortgages and private bonds, MetLife Inc. plans to launch a third-party asset management business that will arrange and manage investments in those areas for other institutional investors, including insurance companies, public and private pension plans and sovereign wealth funds.
The business, branded MetLife Investment Management, will be structured as two separate divisions: MetLife Real Estate Investors and MetLife Private Capital Investors.
"Today, MetLife is already one of the largest institutional investors in the world, with $500 billion in general account assets that we have managed for the long-term to generate strong returns for both our policyholders and shareholders," said Steven J. Goulart, executive vice president and chief investment officer of MetLife Inc. "Our extensive business platforms for originating commercial mortgages, investing in real estate equity and sourcing private placements are well established. We have the talent, scale, reputation and in-market presence to acquire high quality assets with the potential to create strong returns. We will leverage these strengths to meet the needs of third-party institutional investors who have demonstrated an increased demand for these private asset sectors where MetLife has proven capabilities."
As part of the new initiative, MetLife is making organizational changes within its real estate group. The new organization will be led by MetLife's global head of real estate investments, Robert Merck, and will manage investments for both institutional investors and MetLife.
In order to capitalize on its direct real estate investment capability, MetLife Real Estate Investors has created a real estate equity strategies group, and a real estate debt strategies group.
Mark Wilsmann, who has led MetLife's commercial mortgage operation since 2003, will head the equity strategies group.
"Our goal is to lever our industry-leading real estate platform to become a top five institutional real estate investment manager," Merck said.
Brian Casey, who previously headed up MetLife's Washington, DC, regional real estate office, will lead MetLife Real Estate Investors' debt strategies group.
MetLife has been the largest life insurance company lender since 2004; it originated more than $11 billion in commercial mortgages in 2011 and currently holds a $43 billion loan portfolio. It also owns and manages a $10 billion global portfolio of direct equity real estate investments, including office, apartment, retail, industrial and hotel properties. MetLife's real estate platform includes regional origination and asset management offices across eight cities in the U.S., as well as London, Mexico City, Tokyo and Santiago.
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