Wheeler Dealer…MetLife rolls out M&A

By Russ Banham

During the worst of the recession, while the CFOs of many other financial services companies were biting their nails, Bill Wheeler was quietly plotting. The CFO and executive vice president of MetLife was negotiating to acquire Alico, the international life insurance unit of embattled American International Group, in a $15.5 billion transaction that would be the largest in MetLife's history.

Wheeler was no stranger to big deals–in 2005, in his role as M&A overseer at the New York-based life insurer, he closed its $12 billion acquisition of Travelers Life & Annuity and other international insurance businesses from Citigroup. "There's an old adage that most M&A deals fail," says Wheeler. "But the Travelers acquisition, despite a complex post-transaction integration, was a success, and it gave us the confidence to think about other large transactions."

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