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HARTFORD, Conn.-The new senior management team of the company to be formed by the property/casualty businesses of Travelers Insurance Co. and Aetna Life & Casualty Co. will be without the executive who headed Aetna's P/C operations.

Gary G. Benanav, who has run both Aetna's domestic property/casualty operations and international operations since 1993, said in a memo to Aetna employees dated Jan. 9 that he turned down an offer to be second-in-command to Robert I. Lipp, who will be chairman and chief executive officer of the new company.

But Mr. Benanav, who in December 1993 was named to head up 10 strategic business and support units that make up Aetna's P/C operations, said he will take part in the transition phase and formation of the new company.

Mr. Benanav, 50, said in an interview that he was extremely confident the new property/casualty company will be successful but added that at this point in his insurance career, "I'm just not willing to be a No. 2 guy."

"Instead, I'm looking to join a financial services company that needs a good CEO or COO. I would like to lead a struggling company to new levels or take a successful one even higher. But at this point, I honestly do not have any ideas where I may go. I haven't even contacted any headhunters yet. I just didn't want employees hearing about this from anyone else but myself."

Mr. Benanav, in the memo, said the new Travelers/Aetna company will undoubtedly be an "incredible success....I think it's important to tell you this: I was offered a terrific opportunity in the new company. Bob Lipp practically allowed me to write my own salary and job description. I hope that other employers recruit me as hard as Bob and (Travelers Corp. Chairman) Sandy Weill did."

Mr. Benanav added that the entire insurance industry will be watching the Travelers/Aetna merger, along with the acquisition of Continental Corp. by CNA Insurance Cos., to see how such mega-mergers will fare. "If these two deals, in particular, create efficiencies and market clout, then you'll see more such deals. But if the opposite occurs over the next year or so, you'll not likely see such drastic consolidation."

Meanwhile, Mr. Lipp announced the following executive appointments for the new company: Joseph P. Kiernan will head a new bond insurance company that will be formed out of the successful business built by Aetna. Charles J. Clarke, who currently is in charge of commercial lines for Travelers, will serve in the same capacity at the new company. Robert P. Restrepo of Aetna will lead personal lines. Alan Silberstein, most recently of Midlantic Bank, will be in charge of claims operations.

Ronald Foley, who currently manages personal lines for Travelers, will direct risk management operations. Jay Fishman, vice chairman of Travelers Insurance, will have responsibilities in finance, human resources, law, administrative services and systems. William P. Hannon, from KPMG Peat Marwick, will be chief financial officer.