Harbinger Insurer Names Littlefield CEO as Launer Steps Down

Chris Littlefield was promoted to chief executive officer of Fidelity & Guaranty Life as the insurer’s majority owner, Harbinger Group Inc., reshapes management after the departure of its former head, Philip Falcone.

Littlefield, 48, replaces Lee Launer, who is retiring as F&G CEO on April 30, the Des Moines, Iowa-based insurer said today in a statement. Littlefield joined F&G as president last year and was formerly the leader of Aviva Plc’s U.S. unit,

“My passion for leading this great business is equaled only by my determination to pursue certain long-delayed interests, including several important charitable endeavors,” Launer said in the statement. “I have full confidence that the company will continue to successfully execute the strategic road map.”

Harbinger Group sold a minority stake in F&G for $17 a share in a December 2013 initial public offering. The stock advanced 30 percent to $22.17 through yesterday’s close in New York.

Falcone stepped down as chairman and CEO of Harbinger Group late last year, as shareholder Leucadia National Corp. exerted more control over the company. He’d already been barred by regulators from involvement in the insurer, which is 80 percent owned by Harbinger Group.

Launer, who was 59 as of Dec. 15 according to a filing, joined F&G’s predecessor, Old Mutual Plc’s U.S. unit, in August 2010. Falcone’s hedge fund agreed to buy the business that month.

Falcone’s Praise

“We are fortunate to have Leland C. Launer, Jr. on board to serve as chairman and CEO of this business,” Falcone said in a statement at the time. “Lee is one of the industry’s most experienced and respected executives.”

Before joining F&G, Launer worked at two Bermuda-based reinsurers. He’d earlier worked as chief investment officer and treasurer at MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer. F&G said it plans to enter a deal with Launer to advise the company for the rest of this year.

Littlefield led Aviva USA from 2009 to 2013, when the business was sold to Athene Holding Ltd., an insurer tied to Apollo Global Management LLC. He has a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Arizona and a law degree from the University of Iowa, F&G said when he was named president.

“We are very excited about the future growth opportunities at FGL, and are pleased to welcome Chris as he expands his responsibilities,” F&G Chairman Phillip Gass said in today’s statement, using the company’s ticker symbol.

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