Conseco's Mother Of All Stock Option Plans
In the flourishing consolidation business, Stephen C. Hilbert is one of the masters. After founding Conseco Inc. in 1979, he focused on the highly fragmented insurance industry. Since going public in 1985, he bought up more than 40 life and health insurers, typically slashing costs and shutting down unprofitable operations. Last June, he bought subprime loan company Green Tree Financial Corp. Hilbert has achieved an enviable record for Conseco's shareholders: Over the past 12 years, the company has produced a 48% average annual total return, vs. a 17% return for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.
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