Met Life has scaled back its variable business in Australia, ending its nascent deal with Local Government Super, but staying committed to its RetireSafe product with MTAA Super.

A spokesperson for MetLife confirmed that its Max range of products, which include accumulation investments, transition to retirement products and a lifetime growth annuity were currently halted.

The company would not give direct reasons for the decision, simply stating that several internal factors determined the move.

The products were launched on March 4 to both retail and institutional customers.

Peter Lambert, chief executive of Local Government Super, described the move as disappointing, but said that not too much had been spent on implementation so far.

He said the question LGS now faced was whether they pursued the white label approach again – Challenger fixed term, fixed amount annuities are on the funds’ approved product list.

One barrier is the cost of administering such a product in-house.

His preference would be for a deal where a provider and an administrator could work together to offer such a product to a superannuation fund.

“In the environment we are in, where all costs have to be transparent, you need to be confident in the success of products, if you are going to bear the costs of bringing it on,” he said.

Leeanne Turner, chief executive of MTAA Super, confirmed that the partnership with MetLife on its innovative RetireSafe product was unaffected. The product offers lifetime monthly payments and allows lump sum withdrawals below a set amount. Value added extras include a pension guarantee to spouses on the death of the annuity holder and the ability to participate in and lock in positive investment performance to increase monthly pension payments.

The decision to halt the Max product range is the second retreat for MetLife in the Australian market. In 2007 it sold its fixed annuity business to Challenger.

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