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Chilean pensions regulator starts process to revoke approval of controversial AFP mergers

Chile'spensions regulator has initiated separate processes to invalidate its approval ofthe mergers between pension fund managers, or AFPs, Cuprum and Argentum, and betweenProvida and Acquisition, the regulator said in a July 21 statement on its website.

The moveis in compliance with the Comptroller General's order issued June 30, the regulator said.

The regulatorapproved the merger of Administradorade Fondos de Pensiones Cuprum SA and Argentum, both owned by U.S.-basedPrincipal Financial Group Inc.,in early 2015, which resulted in a sizable taxbenefit for the parent company.

In addition,the regulator said it has begun a similar process to invalidate the merger betweenMetLife Inc. units and Acquisition, whichwas approved in 2015 and also resulted in a tax benefit to MetLife.

The AFPsinvolved in both mergers will have the opportunity to present documentation to helpthe regulator decide whether to nullify its approval of their respective mergers.

Accordingto a July 19 resolution, the head of the pensions regulator, Osvaldo Maci´as Mun~oz,and the institution's public prosecutor, Andre´s Culagovski Rubio, will not participatein either process in order to ensure impartiality.

The formerhead of the pensions regulator, Tamara Agnic, resigned earlier in 2016 amid controversy surrounding theapproval of the mergers. A window for AFPs to obtain certain tax benefits closedat the end of December 2014 in line with Chile's tax reform, but the companies involvedin the mergers reportedly submitted their requests for approval before the deadline.