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Hartford CEO Ayer to retire by 2009-end

June 05, 2009 12:03 IST

The India-origin chief of The Hartford Financial Services, Ramani Ayer, will retire as chairman and chief executive officer of the Connecticut-based insurer by the end of this year.

Ayer, 62, who served as CEO for 12 years, informed the board of directors of his plans to retire by end of 2009. The board would begin an immediate, external search for Ayer's replacement, a statement by the insurance-based financial  services company said on Friday.

The move is latest in a series of senior management changes Hartford has seen since last year.

The company's chief financial officer David Johnson resigned in May 2008. Four months ago, president and chief operating officer Thomas Marra said he would step down in July as part of a 'mutually agreed separation'.

"We have recently made a series of important decisions about The Hartford's path forward, setting the company on a new strategic course to build value for our shareholders," the statement quoted Ayer as saying.

He said the company would continue to leverage the Hartford brand and move ahead with its casualty and life franchises. "With this clarity in place, it is the right time for me to make my plans for retirement and for the Board to begin the search for my successor," he added.

Ayer, who spent his entire career serving the company, had worked in a variety of senior executive level positions during his 36-year tenure.

Hartford posted a $1.2-billion loss for the first quarter of 2009 and a $2.7-billion loss for all of 2008.

In a bid to cut costs, the property, casualty and life insurer said it would suspend sales of annuities in Japan and the UK, besides putting on hold plans to sell the products in Germany.

Ayer had to bear the brunt of a frustrated shareholder of

The Hartford at the company's annual shareholder meeting last week when the former employee had asked Ayer when he would step down from his leadership position as he had driven "The Hartford into the ground".

Suffering from losses, Hartford Financial also cut its dividend and is one of the six insurers set to receive $3.4 billion in bailout funds by the government.

Business magazine Forbes had named Ayer among 'overpaid bosses'. Forbes noted that his six-year average annual compensation stood at $13.5 million whereas the annualised six-year total return was '-17 per cent'.

Yoshita Singh in Chicago
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