‘When may we expect your resignation?’

May 27, 2009

FINANCE-SUMMIT/On its website,  life and property insurer Hartford Financial Services bills itself as “Trusted since 1810.” 

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.

2 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Don’t give up until Ayer is gone.

Posted by James J. Gallagher | Report as abusive

Seriously, the stock has dropped over 90% from its high. And there have been NO changes to the board of directors or executive leadership. Why should anyone believe that the crew who made this mess is also the best team to right the course?

Posted by Jason Kilpatrick | Report as abusive

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