Marra to Leave Posts at Hartford Financial

By Lauren Pollock and Leslie Scism
Wall Street Journal
February 26, 2009

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Marra will retire in July as part of a "mutually agreed separation," becoming the second high-level executive to leave the company since the financial crisis hit the insurance industry last autumn.

In October, Hartford announced the appointment of a new chief investment officer on the same day that the company announced a $2.5 billion capital infusion from Allianz SE to shore up its balance sheet.

That executive change came about three weeks before the company posted a $2.6 billion third-quarter loss that showed some of the steepest investment-portfolio losses of the major life insurers. The company followed that with a $806 million loss in the fourth quarter.

On Wednesday, Hartford's shares fell 97 cents, or 12%, to $7.04, in 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares have lost about 90% of their value since August. Since then, Hartford has cut its dividend twice, the latest reduction being 84% earlier this month to five cents a share.

Hartford said Wednesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Mr. Marra, 50 years old, a 29-year veteran of the company who assumed the roles in June 2007, will retire effective July 3 and leave the company's board immediately. Chairman and Chief Executive Ramani Ayer will oversee the company's property-and-casualty and life operations. Hartford doesn't have plans to fill the president and COO positions at this time.

"From a business perspective, the timing is right," Mr. Marra said in a statement. "The new reporting structure will allow for more streamlined and decisive management."

Life insurers have been pounded by concerns that losses on investments will force them to raise capital to shore up their financial bases. Hartford also has been hurt by its heavy focus on the retirement-income products known as variable annuities. Many of these include guarantees of minimum investment returns, and as stock markets have slid, insurers' liabilities have skyrocketed.

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