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April 15, 2005
HARTFORD, Conn. -- MetLife Inc. on Friday announced it will scale back job cuts in Hartford for at least a year with its acquisition of Traveler's Life & Annuity.
The announcement cheered Gov. M. Jodi Rell who pressed the insurer to limit employment losses and prompted state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to drop his threat to fight the merger.
MetLife said earlier this week it would ax 600 jobs and relocate an additional 100. On Friday it said the cuts would amount to 390, with another 100 to be relocated.
Overall, 1,310 of 1,800 jobs will remain in Hartford for at least one year beginning July 1 when the MetLife-Traveler's Life & Annuity deal is expected to close.
John Calagna, a spokesman for MetLife, would not speculate what might occur in a year.
"We made an agreement for at least a year and we'll take it from there," he said.
Initially, 1,200 job cuts were possible, MetLife said.
"It was the continuing feeling on both sides, from the governor's office and MetLife's side, that we wanted to reach an agreement," Calagna said. "We wanted to do the best we could to satisfy what the governor was looking for and minimize the job loss on the state."
Rell said the MetLife announcement followed three weeks of "intensive talks" between representatives of her office and MetLife.
"This was an important fight, and we saved a lot of jobs," Rell said. "But our efforts to turn around our economy and create jobs elsewhere continue."
Calagna credited Rell for not relenting.
"We kept talking and talking and the governor was very persistent," he said. "The governor did a lot of strong work here."
Blumenthal had threatened to fight the merger, which must be approved by the state Insurance Department.
The commissioner of insurance may block a merger if it is considered to not be in the public interest, a point that Blumenthal had said he would press. He said Friday he will abandon his intent to intervene, saying instead he will "closely monitor the acquisition and approval process."
MetLife and Citigroup Inc. announced in January an agreement for the sale of Citigroup's Travelers Life & Annuity and substantially all of Citigroup's international insurance businesses for $11.5 billion.
Hartford's once-premier insurance industry has been in decline for years, with employment in the industry peaking at 48,500 in July 2002. Insurance jobs in the Hartford area have increased by about 5 percent in the past 10 years, to 45,600.