(Bloomberg)—MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, named John Hele to oversee finances as Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian reshapes management and seeks to reduce risk tied to stock market declines and low interest rates.

Hele is stepping down as chief financial officer of Arch Capital Group Ltd. to take the same post at the life insurer. He starts the new role on Sept. 4, New York-based MetLife said today in a statement.

MetLife is seeking to expand sales of group benefits, such as dental and disability coverage sold through employers, while curtailing volume in variable annuities, the equity-linked retirement products that add to liabilities when markets decline. Kandarian has targeted a return on equity of 12 percent to 14 percent by 2016, from 10.3 percent in 2011.

“The goal is to shift toward a more predictable earnings stream and stronger free cash flows,” Kandarian said May 23 at an investor presentation.

MetLife has plunged 31 percent in the past 12 months in New York trading while Arch advanced 18 percent.

Hele, 53, was CFO at ING Groep NV, the biggest Dutch financial-services company, before joining Arch in 2009. He’s also worked in investment banking at Merrill Lynch, MetLife said in the statement. Hele has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

World Markets

“His deep technical expertise, knowledge of world markets, strong risk management skills and proven leadership ability will serve our customers and shareholders well,” Kandarian said in today’s statement.

The search for a CFO was announced last year when MetLife said that William Wheeler, who held the job since 2003, was named president of the new Americas division. Kandarian, who was promoted to CEO from chief investment officer in 2011, reorganized leadership by giving top managers responsibility for geographic regions.

Michel Khalaf, who joined MetLife with the purchase of American Life Insurance Co. from American International Group Inc. in 2010 for about $16 billion, was named last year to run Europe, the Middle East and Africa. MetLife said May 8 it was hiring Christopher Townsend from AIG to lead operations in Asia.

Mark Lyons, who was CEO of the Arch Worldwide Insurance Group unit, was selected to replace Hele as CFO, the Bermuda- based insurer said today in a separate statement.

(Editors: Dan Kraut, Rick Green)

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