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The Associated Press March 21, 2011, 5:41PM ET

MetLife picks investment chief to become new CEO

MetLife Inc. said Monday that its chief investment officer will become the insurance company's next president and CEO in May.

Steven A. Kandarian will replace C. Robert Henrikson, who will reach the company's mandatory retirement age for management executives next year. Henrikson, 63, will remain chairman through 2011. He has been CEO since 2006.

Kandarian, 59, who is also an executive vice president, will be nominated for the MetLife board at the annual shareholder meeting in April. The company said he will become CEO on May 1.

Lead director Cheryl W. Grise said the board looked at candidates inside and outside the company during a year of succession planning.

In a statement issued by the company, Kandarian said the company was focused on disciplined growth and raising profit margins and return on equity.

Kandarian worked for buyout firms, then served as executive director of the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. from 2001 to 2004 before joining MetLife in 2005. He sought to diversify MetLife's investments partly with a $5.4 billion real estate sale in 2006. In 2009, he was given responsibility for the company's brand and marketing services department.

MetLife shares rose 57 cents to close at $44.59 before the announcement. They fell 74 cents to $43.85 in after-hours trading.

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