Troubled insurer The Hartford says its Chairman and CEO, Ramani Ayer, will retire by the end of the year.
The Hartford has been hit hard by the turmoil in the financial sector – it’s sustained heavy investment losses, and its variable annuity business has been struggling. The company posted a loss of one-point-two billion dollars in the first quarter, and has seen its share price plummet since the beginning of the year. It secured a $2.5bn cash injection from a German insurer, but despite that there had been talk about a possible breakup of the company. It’s only with the recent approval of government bailout cash that The Hartford has achieved some stability. CEO Ramani Ayer recently faced criticism from shareholders at the company’s annual meeting – and he told them then that he did not foresee the true nature of the crisis.
"Like many we underestimated the extent of the turmoil in the capital markets, the depth and breadth of the economic downturn, and the impact of both on our industry and The Hartford."
But Regis Coccia, editor of Business Insurance Magazine says despite The Hartford’s troubles, he’s surprised to see Ayer leave.
"He still was an effective leader – he’s a widely respected person in the property casualty and life and health industry. He’s overseen a pretty good run during his tenure at the helm of The Hartford"
62 year old Ayer has been with The Hartford for his whole career, and has led the insurer since 1997. He says he will retire by the end of 2009, and The Hartford’s board says it will begin an external search for a replacement. The company’s president and chief operating officer, Thomas Marra, announced in February that he would also retire this year, and the company recently lost its head of property casualty, Neal Wolin to a Treasury post. The Hartford employs more than 12,000 people in Connecticut.