Tags: Hartford | McGee | Swift | insurance

Hartford Names Swift CEO as McGee Recovers From Procedure

Monday, 09 Jun 2014 10:06 AM

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. promoted Christopher Swift to chief executive officer, replacing Liam McGee, who is stepping down after a medical procedure.

Swift, 53, the chief financial officer who joined from American International Group Inc. in 2010, becomes CEO on July 1, according to a statement today from Hartford, which is based in the Connecticut city of the same name. McGee, 59, will remain executive chairman until the next annual shareholders meeting.

McGee, a former executive at Bank of America Corp., took over Hartford in 2009 and repaid a $3.4 billion government rescue the next year. He sold a U.S life insurer, a Japan annuity business and a retirement-plans operation as he narrowed the company’s focus to property-casualty coverage. Hartford said in January 2013 that McGee was having chemotherapy after the removal of a brain tumor.

Stepping down as CEO will allow McGee to devote “additional time to continued recovery from a recent procedure related to my previously disclosed health issue,” he said in the statement. “With our strategic transformation largely complete, it is the right time for the company and me personally to make this transition.”

Paulson, Buffett

Beth Bombara, 46, who is overseeing the businesses that Hartford is winding down, will replace Swift as CFO. Doug Elliot, 53, president of commercial markets, will take the title of president, a duty that is currently held by McGee.

Hartford has gained 37 percent since the last trading day before McGee became CEO on Oct. 1, 2009, through June 6. The insurer slipped 4 cents to $36.19 at 9:35 a.m. in New York, and is little changed this year after rallying 61 percent in 2013.

John Paulson, the billionaire hedge-fund manager, pressed McGee to split Hartford in 2012 after a share slump the previous year. McGee resisted, instead divesting units, helping the shares recover. Paulson’s firm later praised Hartford for performance “ahead of their own plans and our expectations.”

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. were among the firms to benefit from McGee’s push to shrink Hartford. Berkshire agreed last year to buy Hartford’s U.K. variable-annuity unit, and Prudential acquired the individual life business.

“For nearly five years, Liam has successfully led the Hartford through a financial turnaround and strategic transformation,” Thomas Renyi, Hartford’s presiding director, said in the statement. “We are very appreciative for all he has accomplished.”

Executive Pay

Swift will join the board on July 1, Hartford said in a regulatory filing. His annual compensation target was set at $8.25 million, including a $1 million salary.

Elliot’s pay target is $6.5 million, Hartford said in the filing. Bombara is slated to receive $2.88 million. McGee earned $17.7 million last year, including option awards.

Swift was CFO of American Life Insurance Co., the AIG unit that was sold to MetLife Inc., before joining Hartford. He started his career as an auditor in the Chicago office of KPMG and later became executive vice president of Conning Asset Management.

“I want to thank Liam for his leadership,” Swift said in the statement. The company plans to expand property and casualty, group benefits and mutual funds businesses while “reducing the size and risk of our legacy annuity block.”

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Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. promoted Christopher Swift to chief executive officer, replacing Liam McGee, who is stepping down after a medical procedure.
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2014-06-09
Monday, 09 Jun 2014 10:06 AM
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