Hartford Financial CEO to Step Down

Ramani Ayer, 62, is stepping down from the Hartford Financial Services Group after leading the company for 12 years.

Thursday, he told the board of directors of his plans to retire as chairman and chief executive officer by the end of 2009, according to a news release on the company’s Web site.

Ayer has served at the company’s CEO for 12 years and has been with the company for almost 36 years.

Ramani was heavily criticized last week at a shareholder meeting by an investor and one-time corporate secretary, Justin Winthrop. 

Insuranceday.com reports that Winthrop asked Ayer: "When may we expect you to resign? And if you are not so inclined, may the board, with their heads in the sand, take definitive action?"

"We will continue to leverage the venerable Hartford brand, moving ahead with our strong property and 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,” Ayer said. “In the meantime, I am fully committed to leading this organization during this period and to ensuring a smooth leadership transition as the company enters its third century.”

"Working closely with the Board, Ramani was instrumental in helping the company navigate the extraordinarily challenging financial environment of the past two years, and we are confident that the company is well positioned to compete in the future,” said Paul G. Kirk Jr., the company's longest serving independent director. “We are grateful for Ramani's contributions to The Hartford over his 36 year career and for his continuing dedication to the company as we search for his successor."
The board is starting an immediate search for a replacement.

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