QBE Hires Citigroup’s Harnett After Growing in U.S. Deals

QBE Insurance Group Ltd. hired Citigroup Inc.’s Sue Harnett as chief operating officer for North America operations after Australia’s largest insurer expanded in the U.S. through acquisitions.

Harnett will oversee claims, information technology and corporate legal teams, Sydney-based QBE said yesterday in a statement. She’ll be based in New York and will report to John Rumpler, chief executive officer of operations in North America, in the newly created role, said Paula Symons, a spokeswoman for the insurer.

QBE increased its presence in the U.S. with the 2011 purchase of Balboa Insurance to provide coverage for homes with distressed borrowers. A year earlier, the company struck a deal to buy NAU Country Insurance Co., which protects farmers against losses on crops. New York-based Citigroup is slashing more than 11,000 jobs to cut costs under CEO Michael Corbat, who took the post last year.

“Sue’s diverse business background, strong record of accomplishment and collaborative leadership experience make her ideal” for the insurer, Rumpler said in the statement.

Harnett ran Citigroup’s local consumer lending, which included mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. She also directed global business performance management and had roles in the Netherlands and Belgium before being named CEO of Citibank Germany, according to the statement.

Harnett received a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and an executive MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

QBE established a North America presence in 1991, according to the company’s website. Other deals include the purchases in 2008 of Atlanta-based home insurer ZC Sterling and Michigan-based North Pointe Holdings.