MetLife ( MET) recently approached Hartford Financial ( HIG) about a possible merger, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Citing people familiar with the discussions, the Journal reports the talks didn't lead anywhere. But the approach shows how strains in the financial system have moved from banks to insurance companies, the Journal adds.

MetLife on Tuesday cut its third-quarter earnings guidance, saying the downturn in the equity markets is hurting fee revenue in the variable annuity business and that variable investment income is declining.

The insurer said Wednesday an offering of 75 million shares was priced at $26.50 a share.

Earlier this week, Hartford bolstered its capital position with a $2.5 billion investment from German financial firm Allianz ( AZ).

Shares of MetLife closed Wednesday at $27. Hartford closed at $24.86.
This article was written by a staff member of