Insurance and mortgage giant MetLife Inc. (MET) appointed its chief investment officer Steven Kandarian to the position of CEO and president Tuesday. Kandarian, who is credited with limiting the firm's exposure to risky subprime mortgage backed-securities, is replacing CEO C. Robert Henrikson, who reaches MetLife's mandatory executive retirement age of 65 in 2012. Henrikson will serve as board chairman until the end of 2011. Kandarian takes over as CEO on May 1 and will be nominated to the board of directors in April. MetLife executives credit Kandarian for having the prescience to recognize subprime-MBS risks prior to the 2008 economic meltdown. "Under Kandarian’s leadership, MetLife identified the housing bubble early and reduced the company's exposure to subprime mortgage-backed securities, raising the overall quality of its corporate credit portfolio and increased its focus on low loan-to-value commercial and agricultural mortgages," the company said in a press statement. MetLife, which also issues mortgages through MetLife Bank, originated more than $8 billion in commercial mortgage loans through its real estate investments department last year. MetLife Home Loans originated $35 billion in residential mortgages in 2010. Write to Kerri Panchuk.