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Hartford leader Liam McGee to step down next year

Posted On: Jun. 9, 2014 12:00 AM CST

Hartford leader Liam McGee to step down next year

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. Chairman, President and CEO Liam E. McGee will step down as the insurer's chairman after Hartford's annual shareholders meeting next May, Hartford said Monday.

In addition, Mr. McGee will be succeeded as CEO by Christopher J. Swift, currently Hartford's executive vice president and chief financial officer; and as president by Douglas G. Elliot, currently Hartford's commercial markets president.

Beth A. Bombara, president of Hartford's Talcott Resolution runoff operation, will succeed Mr. Swift as chief financial officer.

The appointments are effective July 1.

Mr. McGee has won plaudits for restructuring Hartford's business since he joined the company in 2009, focusing the company on its core property/casualty, benefits and mutual funds businesses while getting out of the variable annuity and individual life businesses. Most recently, Hartford sold its Japanese variable annuity business to Tokyo-based Orix Corp.'s Orix Life Insurance Corp. for $895 million.

“For nearly five years, Liam has successfully led the Hartford through a financial turnaround and strategic transformation that have resulted in a strong, focused company with attractive growth prospects,” said Thomas A. Renyi, Hartford presiding director, in a statement. “We are very appreciative for all he has accomplished on behalf of the company, and look forward to continuing to benefit from his guidance and experience in his role as chairman.”

“I am proud of what our team has accomplished over the last five years, returning this iconic American company to a strong financial and competitive position and delivering value to shareholders,” said Mr. McGee in the statement. “With our strategic transformation largely complete, it is the right time for the company and me personally to make this transition. I have great confidence in Chris, Doug and Beth to continue our progress. I look forward to continuing as chairman to ensure a smooth transition, while also devoting additional time to continued recovery from a recent procedure related to my previously disclosed health issue.”

In January 2013, Hartford announced that Mr. McGee “underwent successful surgery to remove a small tumor in an easily accessible location on the brain.”

The company said in a statement that Mr. McGee had shown no symptoms previously and that post-surgical tests have confirmed that the tumor was completely removed.

One insurance analyst said that the executive changes were coming earlier than expected.

“Our sense is CEO McGee is stepping down from his day-to-day responsibilities in order to devote more time to recovering from recent health issues,” said John Nadel, managing director at Birmingham, Alabama-based Sterne Agee Group Inc.'s New York office, in a statement issued shortly after the announcement.

“We wish Mr. McGee a speedy recovery,” he said, adding that “while the changes are coming earlier than we believe would have otherwise been the case, we are nonetheless extremely confident in the executives taking on new roles and thus the announcement has no impact on our investment opinion.”