‘When may we expect your resignation?’
Chief Executive Ramani Ayer, trying to usher Hartford through a period of devastating losses, also played up the company’s 199-year history in comments to stockholders on Wednesday at the company’s annual meeting.
Ayer said the Hartford’s long-established reputation would allow it to cash in when the economy starts to improve. How? At least in part by selling retirement products to shell-shocked consumers seeking a way to recover from the global stock market rout.
But Hartford, which posted a $1.2 billion net loss in the first quarter, has been badly burned lately by having to put up more cash for stock market-linked retirement products it already sold. The products have proved costly because they guaranteed periodic payments even when investments in the portfolio performed badly.
Ayer was awarded total compensation of $4.5 million in 2008 but at least one shareholder doesn’t think Ayer should stick around to take many more paychecks.
“I congratulate you on driving Hartford into the ground,” said a man at the annual meeting who identified himself as a former employee who had worked for Hartford for decades, and built up his stock holdings over that period.
The ex-employee, who Ayer acknowledged was known to him, said he had only one question: “When may we expect your resignation?,”adding that if the CEO wasn’t prepared to step down, Hartford’s board of directors should make him.
Picture credit: Reuters file photo of Ramani Ayer.