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Metlife Wins Bidding in Mexico

May 25, 2002

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MEXICO CITY (AP) _ New York-based Metlife Inc. has won the bidding for Mexico’s state-owned insurance company, Aseguradora Hidalgo SA, the Mexican government said.

Metlife had offered $962 million for the company, the Mexican treasury department said late Friday. It was among the last major government companies planned for privatization.

Metlife outbid Spanish insurer Mapfre Vida SA and Mexico’s Grupo Financiero Inbursa SA.

With an estimated 3 million policyholders, Hidalgo has a market share of 30.5 percent and close to $2 billion in assets. The federal government directly owns 75 percent of the company and the government oil monopoly, Pemex, owns 25 percent.

The government said Hidalgo’s workers have five days to exercise their right to match Metlife’s high bid.

Aseguradora Hidalgo sells individual life insurance policies to government employees through payroll deductions, which gives it the lowest costs in the industry. The company also offers collective insurance products to government agencies, local governments and state-owned companies such as Pemex.

The sale includes transfer of collective insurance policies from federal workers through 2004. Terms of sale have been approved by antitrust regulators, who blocked an earlier privatization attempt because of Aseguradora Hidalgo’s position in the market.

After several private insurers last year challenged the company’s exclusive rights to sell collective policies, the Supreme Court ruled that life insurance contracts for federal workers must be awarded through bids.

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