John Paulson, the billionaire hedge fund manager who controls the largest stake in Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG), told Chief Executive Officer Liam McGee he needs to reverse the insurer’s stock slide.
“Hartford needs to do something drastic because the stock is the lowest valuation relative to book value of any major insurance company,” Paulson said today at a conference call for analysts and investors held by Hartford, which is based in the Connecticut city of the same name.
Hartford hired advisers to evaluate splitting the life insurance and property-casualty businesses, the company said today. McGee, who was hired in 2009, told analysts before Paulson spoke that dividing the firm would present “significant challenges” for the insurer.
“What I’d like to see you do is not merely come back and say, ‘Yes, we’re looking at strategic options but there’s challenges,’” Paulson said. “How long do we have to wait to hear if there’s going to be a positive recommendation to separate these two businesses?”
Hartford jumped 7.3 percent to $20.51 at 10:20 a.m. in New York. The insurer declined 39 percent last year and trades at less than half of the company’s book value, which is a measure of assets minus liabilities.
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