* Gets FDIC, Fed approvals to deregister as bank holding co
* Move may allow co to return capital to shareholders
Feb 14 (Reuters) - MetLife Inc said it received regulatory approvals to deregister as a bank holding company, freeing the largest U.S. life insurer from Federal Reserve oversight.
The company started the process of dropping the registration after closing the sale of its deposit-taking business to General Electric's GE Capital unit last month.
Deregistering as a bank holding company will mean MetLife needs to set aside less capital to satisfy Fed regulations, opening the possibility of returning cash to shareholders through dividends or buybacks.
The central bank blocked MetLife from buying back shares in late 2011, and the company failed a Fed stress test last March.
The company said on Thursday it had received approvals to deregister as a bank from both the Fed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
The GE deal, struck in late 2011, had been held up by regulatory reviews, but the companies restructured the sale in September so that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) would be the regulator responsible for approving the deal.
The OCC approved the deal in December.
MetLife shares were down 2.5 percent at $36.58 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, a day after the company posted a 90 percent fall in quarterly profit.
(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore) Keywords: METLIFE BANKHOLDING/
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