Hartford Moves Towards Paulson's Position

Mar 21 2012 | 12:57pm ET

The Hartford Financial Services Group is closing one business and may split its life-insurance and property-casualty businesses—music to John Paulson's ears, even if the insurance giant bent over backwards to deny the hedge fund manager credit for the decision.

Hartford CEO Liam McGee said today that the company would exit the annuity business. Better still for Paulson, who has been calling for a split between Hartford's two main businesses, the company said it would look into selling much of its life-insurance business, as well as its broker-dealer Woodbury Financial Services and its retirement investment unit.

While taking a step towards bowing to Paulson's main—and, recently, frequently made—demand, Hartford said the hedge fund manager, its largest shareholder, was not the impetus. McGree said it had hired investment bankers in the summer and was already evaluating strategic alternatives before Paulson began agitating for a split.

"This was Hartford's decision," McGee told The Wall Street Journal. "We appreciate the constructive suggestions of all of our shareholders, including Paulson."

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