MANAMA: The Middle East life insurance industry is looking for a growth of around 17 per cent this year after a slowdown in 2009.
"The industry in this part of the world still has very low levels of penetration," said MetLife Alico Gulf general manager Mario Valdes.
"But we have seen growth of around 20pc a year recently until the dip last year in the wake of the financial crisis."
He was speaking on his first visit to Bahrain since MetLife, the US' largest life insurer, rubber stamped its acquisition of American Life Insurance Company (Alico) from AIG last week.
That deal now gives MetLife its first footprint in the Middle East with the creation of MetLife Alico to run the former AIG subsidiary's operations.
"This deal brings together two well-established, international businesses with proven track records of growth," he said.
"The combination creates a global life insurance and employee benefits powerhouse and will give our customers across this region even more ways to protect their future.
"We will offer a broader portfolio of products serving more people in more areas and innovative products and services.
"MetLife is new to this region but Alico has been here for more than 50 years and there will not be any changes to existing policies based on this acquisition. But the largest organisation will be looking to further expand its regional operations.
"At present life insurance is in its infancy in this region, accounting for less than 0.3pc of gross domestic product compared with around 8pc in the West.
"MetLife's acquisition of Alico will allow us to offer a wider range of products and expand our business here."