Citigroup’s Walsh to Join Broker Marsh & McLennan

Keith Walsh, who covered insurance stocks for Citigroup Inc. (C) as an analyst, will join broker Marsh & McLennan Cos. to lead investor relations.

Walsh, 38, will report to Chief Financial Officer Michael Bischoff, the New York-based broker said today in a statement. Bischoff was named CFO in September and previously headed investor relations among other duties.

Marsh & McLennan, the second-largest insurance broker, said Walsh will join Dec. 3 as the company prepares for the promotion of Daniel Glaser to chief executive officer, replacing the retiring CEO Brian Duperreault on Jan 1. Walsh spent 13 years as an equity research analyst at Citigroup, most recently covering underwriters and brokers, according to the statement.

“Keith’s focus on the insurance and professional services industries, coupled with his keen understanding of our company and deep financial acumen, make him an ideal choice to lead our investor relations efforts,” Bischoff said in the statement.

Citigroup plans to replace Walsh by early 2013, Sophia Stewart, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. Colin Devine, a life insurance analyst who left the bank last year, was replaced in August, by Erik Bass, who previously worked for JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Walsh was among Wall Street analysts who dropped support for Duperreault’s predecessor Michael Cherkasky in 2007 after the firing of Brian Storms, the head of the company’s turnaround effort. The broker’s stock price trailed rival Aon Plc’s under Cherkasky.

Walsh, Cherkasky

Any management change that leaves Cherkasky in place doesn’t go far enough, Walsh said in a Sept. 16, 2007 note. It’s a “mystery” why the board hasn’t acted yet, said the analyst, who lowered his rating to hold from buy.

Marsh & McLennan said in December of that year that its board had initiated a search for a new CEO. Duperreault, who had previously led insurer Ace Ltd., was hired for the post in January 2008.

Walsh lifted his rating less than six months later, saying that Duperreault and Glaser, who was hired in December 2007, were a “significant upgrade” from prior management. The insurance broker has returned 29 percent since the day before Walsh’s call.

Insurance firms are turning to investment banks as they seek to build relationships with Wall Street. Edward Spehar left his job as an insurance analyst at Bank of America Corp. to become head of investor relations at MetLife Inc., according to a statement last month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in New York at nbuhayar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.