Insurance giant MetLife said Thursday it plans to sell its banking affiliate but will remain in the residential finance and servicing business through its MetLife Home Loans division.

In a press statement the publicly traded firm said it feels a bank holding company structure is no longer appropriate given its focus on the insurance and employee benefits businesses.

"In a highly competitive global insurance marketplace, it is imperative that MetLife be able to operate on a level playing field with other insurance companies,” said company CEO Steven Kandarian.

Over the past three years MetLife Home Loans has grown rapidly, recently expanding into warehouse and correspondent lending.

The insurer said the bank contributed just 2% to its first quarter operating earnings.

MetLife Home Loans was launched in 2008 when the parent company acquired the reverse mortgage business from EverBank. Not too soon after it bought the forward mortgage originations business of First Horizon Home Loans.

A MetLife spokesman said the company plans to remain in the reverse mortgage business. No other details were available as ASR sister publication National Mortgage News went to press.

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