Hoping to trim expenses, New York-based MetLife Inc. is combining its institutional and individual businesses into a single business organization in the United States.

The restructuring is the result of a strategic review initiated two years ago. MetLife says the combined units will be better situated to serve the market as employers increasingly shift decision-making about personal financial and retirement planning to their employees.

“With this realignment, we are recognizing that we can better serve both employee benefit plan sponsors and individual customers through a single, integrated organization, while preserving our unique franchises,” MetLife Chairman, President & CEO C. Robert Henrikson said in a statement. “Our institutional and individual businesses have always been complementary, but by bringing them together, we will increase our speed in delivering new products and solutions to the market, better leverage our distribution channels, enhance efficiencies, and expand services to our customers.”

To run the new organization, the company tapped William Mullaney, who has served as president of MetLife’s Institutional Business since January 2007. MetLife says the integration of the business segments is scheduled to begin on August 1, 2009, and is due to be completed in 2010.

The announcement comes on heels of the company announcing a first-quarter net loss of $544 million in May. Last year, Henrikson announced to plans to trim $400 million in annual expenses. However, citing its financial position, the company elected not to participate in the U.S. Treasury’s TARP Capital Purchase Program.

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