Met Life expected to announce deal to buy St. Paul unit

July 12, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- Metropolitan Life, one of the country's largest life insurance companies, was expected to announce today that it is sharply expanding its auto and home insurance subsidiary by buying a unit of St. Paul Cos., a leading corporate insurer with offices in Baltimore, for more than $500 million, executives close to the negotiations said.

With the acquisition, the number of cars and homes insured by Met Life would nearly double, to 4.35 million, analysts estimated. The deal would also increase the reach of Met Life's auto and home insurance business from its stronghold in the Northeast to towns and cities throughout the Midwest and parts of the South.

For St. Paul, a sale would provide a way out of a line of business that has been limping along and would enable it to concentrate on the coverage of corporations and professionals for which it is best known.

St. Paul bought the Baltimore-based insurer USF&G last year. Besides providing broad coverage for some of the nation's biggest corporations, St. Paul is a leader in medical malpractice and construction industry coverage.

It also does a big business in liability policies for small banks and municipal governments, as well as for lawyers and financial specialists such as accountants and for high-tech companies.

Spokesmen for the two companies said they could not comment.

Pub Date: 7/12/99

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