NEW YORK (AP) — MetLife is exploring the sale of its bank business because, while it represents only a small portion of overall income, the company must be regulated as a bank holding company, the insurer said Thursday.

Bank regulations have become stiffer since the financial crisis and being forced to comply with those rules could put the insurer at a competitive disadvantage.

The bank represented 2 percent of MetLife's first quarter operating earnings, yet a large part of the business is governed by regulations written for banks, said CEO Steven Kandarian.

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