MetLife , the largest U.S. life insurer, on Monday said it will not take money from the government's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, saying it already has sufficient capital.

The company also confirmed that because it has more than $100 billion of assets and is organized as a bank holding company, it is one of the 19 U.S. companies participating in a government stress test of its ability to weather a steep economic downturn.

Chief Executive Robert Henrikson in a statement said New York-based MetLife has about $5 billion of excess capital, and that revenue is healthy in its core group and individual insurance businesses. MetLife also bolstered capital last October with a $2.3 billion stock sale.

Rivals such as Hartford Financial Services Group Inc and Prudential Financial Inc
have won holding company status as lenders, qualifying them for TARP. Both lost money in last year's second half while MetLife was profitable.

Many companies that got TARP money have complained about the program, including the government's unilateral ability to impose new rules on aid recipients, such as on executive pay.

Several banks that got TARP money have given it back, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc on Monday said that if its regulators allow, it plans to repay its $10 billion of TARP money, in part with proceeds of a $5 billion common stock sale.

The stress tests are expected to show whether large financial companies are equipped to weather a steep recession, and whether the government might require some to raise more capital. Results are due by the end of April, though it remains unclear which details will be released into the marketplace.

MetLife shares rose 20 cents to $28.99 in after-hours trading following the announcement. They had risen $1.77, or 6.6 percent, to $28.79 in regular trading.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Gary Hill)