MetLife's board of directors announced on Monday that Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Steven A. Kandarian will become its president and chief executive officer on May 1, 2011. He also will be nominated for election to the MetLife board at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in April. C. Robert Henrikson, who in 2012 will reach MetLife’s executive management mandatory retirement age, will continue to serve as chairman of the board during a transition period through year-end 2011.
“During his six years at MetLife, Steve has overseen the strengthening and further diversification of MetLife’s $450 billion portfolio and made significant contributions to the development and execution of MetLife’s strategic initiatives,” said MetLife Board Lead Director Cheryl W. Grisé, who headed the board’s year-long succession planning activity. “The board undertook an extensive process, which included a review of internal and external candidates, and we’re confident that Steve’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge make him well suited to serve as MetLife’s next CEO. His deep understanding of MetLife’s risk management culture and businesses make him the ideal person to take MetLife to the next level of global success.
“Rob has been an exceptional leader for MetLife. We are enormously appreciative of all that he has contributed to the company in his nearly 40 years of service and the board looks forward to continuing to work with him throughout the transition period,” added Grisé.
C. Robert Henrikson said, “Having worked closely with Steve over the years, I have great confidence in his ability to lead MetLife into a new era of global growth and outstanding performance. He has demonstrated inspirational leadership on critical company initiatives and clearly understands the importance of delivering value to all of our stakeholders – attributes that will make him a great CEO.”
Steven A. Kandarian stated, “This is an exciting time for MetLife, and I’m honored to have been chosen to lead this premier global franchise. UnderRob’s leadership, MetLife has not only weathered one of the most challenging economic periods in history, but has emerged with enhanced operational and financial strength, and a greatly expanded platform for capitalizing on life, annuity and retirement market opportunities around the world. We are proceeding on plan with the integration of Alico while maintaining our focus on disciplined growth, margin improvement and return on equity expansion. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Rob, the entire management team and our exceptionally talented and dedicated employees and distribution partners.”
Kandarian, 59, joined MetLife as the company’s chief investment officer in April 2005. As CIO, he has enhanced the company’s focus on effective risk management and diversified its investment portfolio, in part through the $5.4 billion sale of Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town in 2006. Under Kandarian’s leadership, MetLife identified the housing bubble early and reduced the company’s exposure to sub-prime mortgage-backed securities, raised the overall quality of its corporate credit portfolio and increased its focus on low loan-to-value commercial and agricultural mortgages.
In 2007, he oversaw a comprehensive review of MetLife’s strategic initiatives, which resulted in the identification of key areas of focus for MetLife to achieve revenue growth and expense savings. In 2009, Kandarian assumed responsibility for MetLife’s global brand and marketing services department.