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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Hartford Names President and COO

News summary by MFWire's editors

The Hartford Financial Services Group has appointed Thomas M. Marra, 48, to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer. Ramani Ayer, 60, will relinquish his position as president but will continue as chairman and chief executive officer of The Hartford. Marra is currently a member of the board of directors and president and chief operating officer of Hartford Life. In his new role, Marra will oversee both Hartford's life and property-casualty operations.

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: HIG), one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services companies, announced today the appointment of Thomas M. Marra to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer. Marra, 48, currently a member of the company’s board of directors and president and chief operating officer of Hartford Life, will assume his new role effective immediately. In his new role, Marra will oversee both The Hartford’s life operations and The Hartford’s property-casualty operations.

Marra joined The Hartford in 1980 and has held a progression of senior leadership roles in The Hartford’s life operations. In 1994, he was named senior vice president and director of Individual Life and Annuities and in 2000 was promoted to chief operating officer of Hartford Life, becoming president in 2001.

Ramani Ayer, 60, will relinquish his position as president but will continue as chairman and chief executive officer of The Hartford.

The Hartford’s board of directors deliberates regularly on matters related to succession planning. Chairman Ayer and the board concluded this morning that the company would be well served by creating the president and COO position to allow a multi-year period during which Ayer, Marra and other senior executives will work together leading the enterprise.

Paul G. Kirk, Jr., a member of the company’s board since 1995, said, “Ramani and Tom have a collective sixty-one years of experience at The Hartford. It’s hard to beat that kind of continuity of senior management in a publicly held company. They will do a great job leading the 31,000 employees of this outstanding financial services organization. Our shareholder return is due in no small part to our experienced and creative team of insurance industry leaders.”

Commenting on Marra, Ayer said, “Tom has delivered exceptional results and won the deep respect of his peers over a quarter century with our company, beginning as an actuary and moving steadily through our ranks. An industry and community leader, he has developed and inspired cohesive management teams and used his vision to build new businesses. Under his stewardship, Hartford Life has seen strong innovation and expansion in products, distribution, service and operations. Tom will now partner with me to lead our enterprise.”


Associated with today’s announcement, The Hartford said that David K. Zwiener, 52, currently a member of the company’s board of directors and the president and chief operating officer of its property-casualty operations, will leave The Hartford and the board, but will work actively to effect a smooth transition through the summer. Zwiener, who joined the company in 1995 as its chief financial officer before assuming his present position in 2000, has accepted a position as managing director of The Carlyle Group’s newly formed Financial Institutions Group.

“I am proud to have been a part of The Hartford’s leadership team for twelve years, especially the past seven during which I was privileged to lead a peerless team of professionals supporting a vast network of independent agents and brokers, along with our partners at AARP, that together serve millions of customers in personal and commercial lines across the country,” Zwiener said. “My friend and longtime colleague, Tom Marra, will do an outstanding job helping our entire portfolio of businesses continue to grow and diversify,” he added.

Commenting on Zwiener, Ayer said, “Dave has made an immeasurable contribution to The Hartford, first as its CFO and then in his current role. He repositioned our property-casualty operations, developing growth plans that center on markets where we can achieve targeted profitability levels while maintaining underwriting discipline. From stronger risk controls and a first-rate customer claims experience to enhanced catastrophe risk management and smart technology investments and improved distribution, Dave’s contributions will leave a lasting legacy on a great franchise.”

The Hartford has appointed as president and COO of property-casualty operations Neal S. Wolin, 45, until now the company’s executive vice president and general counsel. Wolin joined the company in 2001 after 11 years of public service in the U.S. Government in the White House and, most recently, at the Department of the Treasury, where he served as general counsel. At The Hartford, Wolin has advised the CEO and the board on a wide range of legal, governance and government affairs matters and has overseen Heritage Holdings, the company’s property-casualty runoff business. As general counsel, he created a robust regulatory compliance organization as stakeholders seek ever greater disclosure and transparency from financial services firms. Wolin also presided over the company’s communications and marketing functions, helping to elevate recognition of The Hartford’s venerated stag brand and enhance its longstanding reputation as a trusted steward of the savings and investments of millions of Americans.

Commenting on Wolin, Ayer said, “Neal grasps the intricacies of our company and the economic models driving our industry and will bring energy and insight to our operations. As my partner on many challenging issues on the public policy front as well as the management of several regulatory matters, he has brought superior strategy and business acumen as our chief legal officer, head of government affairs and our director of public policy. Overseeing our property-casualty runoff operations, Neal has helped us navigate some of the most complex and risky areas of the property-casualty insurance business.”


With Tom Marra moving to The Hartford’s world headquarters to assume his enterprise-wide role, leadership at Hartford Life will be shared by John C. Walters, 45 and Lizabeth H. Zlatkus, 48, presidents, respectively, of Hartford Life’s U.S. Wealth Management businesses and its International Wealth Management and Group Benefits businesses. Walters and Zlatkus will serve as co-chief operating officers of The Hartford’s life operations.

Walters joined Hartford Life in April 2000 from First Union Securities, the brokerage subsidiary of First Union Corp. U.S. Wealth Management, under Walters, ranks number one in variable annuity assets under management, number two in variable life insurance sales and is one of the fastest-growing non-proprietary retail mutual fund families in history. Zlatkus joined The Hartford in 1983 and has held increasingly responsible leadership roles in finance, risk management and business operations. International Wealth Management and Group Benefits, under Zlatkus, includes Hartford Life Insurance K.K. in Japan, Icatu Hartford in Brazil and Hartford Life Limited in the United Kingdom. Zlatkus’s organization is the number one seller of fully insured group disability insurance in the U.S. and the leading provider of variable annuities in Japan, a dynamic and growing business, which The Hartford launched just seven years ago.

Commenting on Walters and Zlatkus, Ayer said, “John and Liz have been at the forefront of our domestic and international growth story and I look forward to that story opening a new chapter under their joint leadership of Hartford Life. John and Liz have great command of operations, but they also share a visionary zeal for the opportunities that a strong, leading life insurer can realize as the Baby Boom generation moves into their retirement years, both at home and abroad. They have a strong partnership and are supported by a deep and talented management team.”


The announcements related to The Hartford’s operating units are joined by two appointments reporting to Ayer within the company’s corporate structure, both effective immediately.

Replacing Neal Wolin as executive vice president and general counsel of The Hartford is Alan J. Kreczko, 56, currently the company’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel. Kreczko joined The Hartford in 2003 following a distinguished 25-year career in the federal government including roles as legal advisor to the National Security Council and deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of State. He was most recently acting assistant secretary for refugees, population and migration at the State Department. During his tenure at The Hartford, Kreczko has been deeply involved in legal issues related to both The Hartford’s property-casualty and life operations.

Commenting on Kreczko, Ayer said, “Alan has developed an excellent knowledge of our businesses and the laws that govern them, earning through his wise counsel the trust of our entire management team. He has shown exceptional skill in working to resolve many of our regulatory challenges and strengthen our business practices. Given his extensive background in law and government, Alan will add a large measure of insightful leadership to our legal and government affairs operations.”

Eileen Whelley, 53, was named as executive vice president, human resources of The Hartford. Whelley joined The Hartford in late 2006 following 17 years with General Electric, where she held a succession of HR leadership roles. Most recently, she served as executive vice president of human resources for GE’s NBC Universal unit, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies.

Commenting on Whelley, Ayer said, “Eileen has, in a very short time with our company, established herself quickly as a key player at The Hartford. Her deep and varied expertise has enabled her to partner effectively with our operating leaders and I look forward to important contributions from Eileen and the rest of her exceptionally strong human resources leadership team.”

Since arriving at The Hartford, Whelley has worked closely with Ann M. de Raismes, executive vice president, human resources, as de Raismes’s designated successor. de Raismes, 56, will retire in December following a 23-year career in human resources at The Hartford. As executive vice president, de Raismes led all human resource strategy and planning including talent management and succession, compensation and benefits, employee relations and performance management. de Raismes will continue to work with Whelley on the transition through the end of the year.

Commenting on de Raismes, Ayer said, “Ann’s contributions, as a partner and coach to me and a great resource to our board, have been invaluable. She understood that in order for the company to grow, The Hartford had to have both great leaders and great supporting talent on teams throughout our company. She has led the charge to attract, develop, and retain the top talent needed to become a Fortune 100 company by creating strategies, systems, and practices to manage and grow our talent to compete effectively in the marketplace.”


Reflecting on today’s appointments, Marra said, “Neal, John and Liz are three extraordinary talents leading three superb management teams. As I begin my new assignment in my twenty-eighth year with the company I’m energized and enthusiastic about what lies ahead. The opportunities before us are better, bigger and bolder than at any time in our company’s nearly 200-year history. But we are equally mindful of the existing challenges on many fronts of our complex industry and changing markets. Few teams are better positioned to capitalize on both the challenges and the opportunities than The Hartford’s life and property-casualty operations.”

Ayer concluded, “The strategic insight and financial discipline of our most senior managers has led to excellent returns for shareholders. Over the past ten year period, total return to shareholders was over 12 percent per year, significantly outperforming the S&P 500 during that time. I look forward to working with Tom and our other outstanding leaders on charting The Hartford’s future, a company I revere so deeply and have served for 34 years. Tom’s promotion and these other key appointments introduce an orderly succession process undertaken by our board of directors on behalf of our shareholders. The Hartford’s success across its operations has positioned the company well to capitalize on the considerable depth and strength of our leadership talent to allow this process to begin.”

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. will host a meeting with investors on Wednesday, June 13, 2007 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT at The St. Regis Hotel, New York City. A live webcast will be available on the company’s website at http://ir.thehartford.com, with replays of the sessions available following the event.

The Hartford, a Fortune 100 company, is one of the nation's largest financial services and insurance companies, with 2006 revenues of $26.5 billion. The Hartford is a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products; and business property and casualty insurance. International operations are located in Japan, Brazil and the United Kingdom. The Hartford's Internet address is www.thehartford.com.


Some of the statements in this release should be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These include statements about our future results of operations. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, those discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2006 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued. 

Edited by: Erin Kello

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