Harbinger Appoints Omar Asali CEO in Post-Falcone Shift

Harbinger Group Inc. said it promoted its president Omar Asali to be chief executive officer and changed its name as the firm distances itself from former chairman Philip Falcone.

The new name is HRG Group, the New York-based company said Monday in a statement. Asali has been president of the company since 2011 and was previously a managing director at Harbinger Capital Partners. He joined from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he was co-head of hedge fund strategies.

Falcone stepped down in November, when he said he would focus on his role as chairman of HC2 Holdings Inc., which owns stakes in a range of companies, much like Harbinger Group. He founded what was once one of the biggest hedge funds, Harbinger Capital Partners, and in 2013 was banned from the securities industry for five years in a settlement with regulators. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had accused Falcone of improperly borrowing money from his fund to pay personal taxes and said he gave preferential treatment to some of his investors in returning their money.

Harbinger Group is majority owner of insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life. Its assets also include Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc., the maker of Rayovac batteries and George Foreman grills.

Harbinger Group’s largest shareholder Leucadia National Corp., the parent of investment bank Jefferies Group, has been asserting more control while increasing its stake. On Nov. 25, Leucadia Chairman Joseph Steinberg was named to lead Harbinger Group’s board, replacing Falcone, who also stepped down as chief executive officer.

Leucadia added 5 million Harbinger Group shares on the day Falcone’s departure was announced, bringing its stake to about 23 percent. It had more than doubled its holding to about 20 percent in March 2014.

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