April 16, 2005
By DIANE LEVICK, Courant Staff Writer
Pressured by state officials,
MetLife Inc. agreed Friday to keep about 210 more jobs in Hartford
than planned, clearing major opposition to its $11.5 billion
acquisition of Travelers Life & Annuity.
The joint announcement by MetLife and Gov. M. Jodi Rell softens
the blow for Hartford to a loss of 490 jobs - instead of the
most recent threat of 700 jobs and previous specter of up to
"In a perfect world, this acquisition would be accomplished
without any cutbacks," said Rell, whose staff negotiated
the agreement with MetLife. "In the real world, job losses
are sometimes unavoidable."
The 490-job loss includes 390 positions to be eliminated and
100 jobs to be moved out of state.
MetLife made the concession two days after Attorney General
Richard Blumenthal said that he would seek to intervene in a
public hearing on the proposed acquisition and ask regulators
to deny it because of the economic impact. Even if he did not
prevail, his action could have led to long and contentious proceedings
for MetLife, which hopes to close the deal by July 1.
At Rell's request, Blumenthal
agreed Friday not to intervene formally in the hearing, but
said that he would speak there and continue to "ask tough questions" about
the deal. No hearing date has been set.
New York-based MetLife now guarantees that it will keep 1,310
Travelers jobs in Hartford for at least one year after the deal's
closing. But it was not known how many employees who would have
lost their jobs now will be able to keep them.
The employment level of 1,310 reflects several moving parts
Job offers already made to 1,100 Travelers employees, although
not all are expected to accept them. MetLife said that if a job
offer is rejected, the company will fill either that one or another
to maintain the 1,100 level.
An unknown number of employees who will now be offered ongoing
jobs, who would otherwise have been laid off within a few months
of the closing.
Jobs that MetLife will bring into Hartford from other states
- believed to be at least 200 positions, although the company
would not say.
Attrition - people voluntarily leaving Travelers.
Travelers is part of Citigroup and has about 1,800 employees
in Hartford, having shrunk by 59 since the acquisition was announced
MetLife's one-year promise of keeping 1,310 Travelers jobs in
the city - shorter than some acquirers' job commitments of two
years or more - raises the question of whether more layoffs will
occur when a year is up.
But Rell spokesman Rich Harris
said Friday: "It is our
understanding that these are permanent and ongoing jobs and that
the number is not likely to change other than through normal
MetLife spokesman John Calagna
noted only that the one-year promise is a minimum and said: "That's
what both parties agreed to."
MetLife also said that there will be no change, other than through
attrition, to its current operations in Connecticut. The company
has about 1,200 positions spread among Glastonbury, Rocky Hill,
Shelton and Westport.
On Monday, when MetLife announced that it would make 600 Travelers
job cuts and move 100 jobs out of Hartford, the governor's office
said that the company had negotiated as much as it could. No
more talks were scheduled with company officials at the time.
On Wednesday, when Blumenthal said that he would oppose the
acquisition, MetLife resumed talks that day with the governor's
Asked whether MetLife returned
to the table because of Blumenthal's threat, Calagna said, "It
had all to do with MetLife trying to put together the best
agreement and to save the most jobs possible and to move forward
for approval of the transaction."
Blumenthal said that his opposition
to the deal "undoubtedly
had an impact in helping to break an impasse," but added, "I
would not be so presumptuous as to claim sole credit."
MetLife did not seek state or local financial incentives in
return for the jobs agreement, Calagna said.
Friday's agreement did not include a specific dollar commitment
by MetLife for charitable contributions in Connecticut, although
the company has vowed to be a good corporate citizen.
Blumenthal said that he would
push for MetLife to "maintain
and enhance" the giving so that the annual contribution
would be at least as much, if not more, than the total now donated
by MetLife and Travelers combined.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez said
he welcomed the MetLife jobs agreement Friday but added, "The
devil's always in the details."
He wants to know more about how long the jobs will stay in Hartford
and what kinds of positions will be here. Public officials have
voiced concern that the job mix won't be as high-paying as Travelers'
Perez said that he also plans
to continue working with MetLife so that it will "grow
business lines in the city."
"I'm encouraged we're moving in the right direction," Perez
said. "We can't claim victory yet."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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