The board of directors of American Equity Investment Life Holding Co. has named its next president and CEO to succeed John Matovina, who will retire as CEO on March 1 after 19 years with the company.

Anant Bhalla, most recently executive vice president and chief financial officer of Brighthouse Financial Inc., will begin his employment with American Equity on Jan. 27 as president and a member of the board. Matovina will remain on the company’s board as nonexecutive chairman.  

“American Equity is a fabulous success story and I am delighted to join such an incredible organization at such a pivotal time for both the company and our industry,” Bhalla said in a statement. “I see great opportunity to build on its solid foundation and further enhance its presence in the retirement and savings markets while delivering exceptional value for all stakeholders.”

Bhalla has nearly two decades of experience in publicly traded companies across the insurance, asset management and wealth management sectors. He joined MetLife in 2014 as CFO of retail business, and co-led the creation of Brighthouse Financial, the publicly traded spinoff of MetLife’s U.S. life and annuity business, in 2016. Prior to MetLife, he held numerous senior roles including chief risk officer, treasurer and other management roles at Fortune 500 companies, including American International Group, Lincoln National Corp. and Ameriprise Financial.

Since leaving Brighthouse in the spring of 2019, Bhalla has been a partner of Bhalla Capital Partners, focused on bringing together private capital and asset management capabilities to serve core unmet needs in the global life insurance sector. 

“In Anant, we are fortunate to have a leader who has excelled throughout his career,” said Joyce Chapman, who chaired the special committee of American Equity’s board that led the executive search. “He will bring a fresh perspective to American Equity while maintaining a strong commitment to our values, our shareholders, our employees and our distribution partners.”

Matovina became CEO and president in June 2012 and succeeded American Equity’s founder, David Noble, as chairman of the board of directors in April 2017. He joined the board in June 2000 and began his employment with American Equity in June 2003 as vice chairman. He was CFO and treasurer from January 2009 to June 2012.

“I know that Anant and the Board of Directors are committed to maintaining the strong emphasis on shareholder returns, customer and agent service, clear and transparent products and competitive rates that have been the hallmarks of the Company since its founding by Dave Noble and I look forward to working with him,” Matovina said.