New MetLife CEO Michel A. Khalaf Talks About The Company’s Progress

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MetLife is “making steady progress towards establishing a track record of consistent execution,” Michel A. Khalaf said in his first earnings conference call presiding as CEO.

Second-quarter earnings, adjusted for one-time items, totaled $1.3 billion or $1.38 per share, up from $1.30 per share a year ago – and more than the $1.34 per share that analysts polled by FactSet had expected. Revenue fell 17% to $17 billion, but was more than the consensus expectation of $16.4 billion.

MetLife provides insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to customers in more than 40 countries around the world and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Khalaf, who assumed the top post of New York City-based company in May, said that one of his top priorities this year is to complete the strategic review of the company’s businesses, of which the full results will be outlined in December.

“We are strengthening our efficiency mindset so that expense discipline and continuous improvement become embedded in our company’s DNA,” he said. “Consistent with our principles, we are taking steps to optimize our portfolio so that we can maximize the value of our highest potential businesses.”

Such was the case when MetLife recently announced that it was selling its Hong Kong business because management and the board “did not see a path to scale or risk-adjusted returns above our cost of capital,” Khalaf said. “By selling this business, we will free up additional resources to enhance value creation.”

The company also announced that its board approved a new $2 billion share buyback, after returning more than $2 billion to shareholders through common dividends and share repurchases in the first two quarters of 2019.

“Strong value creation requires the right strategic choices, none more important than how we allocate capital,” Khalaf said. “We always seek to deploy capital to produce the highest risk-adjusted returns whether through organic growth, M&A or returning capital to our shareholders.”

Khalaf joined MetLife in 2010 as CEO of its Middle East, Africa and South Asia region through the company’s acquisition of AIG’s Alico. In 2011, Khalaf joined MetLife’s Executive Group when he was named president of its Europe, Middle East and Africa region. In 2017, he added responsibility for the company’s U.S. businesses, as well as for the global business unit that sells employee benefits in 40 countries.

In his 21 years at Alico, Khalaf held a number of leadership roles in various markets around the world, including the Caribbean, France and Italy. In 1996, he was named the first general manager of Alico’s operation in Egypt. In 2001, he assumed the position of regional senior vice president in charge of Alico’s life, pension and mutual fund operation in Poland, Romania and the Baltics. Later, he served as deputy president and chief operating officer of Philamlife, AIG’s operating company in the Philippines. Khalaf began his career as an investment officer at Alico headquarters in Wilmington, Del.

 

He’s No. 43 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies

Headquarters: New York City

Age: 55

Education:Syracuse University, Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and a Master of Business Administration in finance.

First joined company:  2010

Prior to joining MetLife: Alico

Named CEO: 2019