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In brief: MetLife, states settle for $500 million

LOS ANGELES – MetLife Inc. will pay nearly $500 million in a settlement involving more than 30 states that claimed it didn’t provide life insurance benefits to some of its policyholders, the company said Monday.

The largest life insurer in the United States said it expects to pay about $188 million of the $478 million this year, and the remainder over the next 17 years.

State regulators investigated MetLife’s use of the Social Security Administration’s “death master file,” a database of people who have died.

California Controller John Chiang said a joint investigative hearing held last year revealed MetLife had information about the deaths of some of its life insurance policyholders but failed to pay what was owned.

MetLife maintains it pays more than 99 percent of life insurance claims and it has been working with regulators to ensure everyone is paid.

MetLife has undertaken a variety of steps to locate policyholders who have lost contact with the company, including the creation of a website to help customers find their policies.

ConocoPhillips profits, production both down

NEW YORK – ConocoPhillips said Monday that its first-quarter profit dropped 3 percent because it produced less oil and natural gas from a shrinking pool of assets.

America’s third-largest oil company has been selling pieces of its global operation. It plans to split into two smaller companies on May 1. One company will keep the ConocoPhillips name and focus on exploration and production. The other, Phillips 66, will specialize in refineries and pipelines.

CEO Jim Mulva will retire following the split.

Since 2010, ConocoPhillips has moved in the opposite direction of its Big Oil peers, shedding oil fields and investments in companies like Russian oil giant Lukoil. Overall, it has sold more than $20 billion in assets and investments since 2010, and it expects to divest another $8-$10 billion over the next 12 months.