MetLife, a provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, is exploring the sale of its bank depository business to avoid new federal regulations.

The life insurer said the consideration for the sale is MetLife Bank’s depository business which includes savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts.

However, MetLife plans to continue offering residential mortgages through its MetLife Home Loans division.

According to the MetLife, the bank holding company which represented 2% of its first quarter 2011 operating earnings, is no longer appropriate.

MetLife opened the banking unit in 2001 and launched home loans division in 2008, with the acquisition of reverse mortgage firm EverBank and select assets from First Horizon Home Loans and First Tennessee Bank.

MetLife president and CEO Steven Kandarian said the firm do not believe it is appropriate for the overwhelming majority of its business to be governed by regulations written for banking institutions.

"In a highly competitive global insurance marketplace, it is imperative that MetLife be able to operate on a level playing field with other insurance companies," Kandarian said.