Paulson Brushes Off Hartford Plan

Mar 23 2012 | 12:27pm ET

If Hartford Financial Services Group CEO Liam McGee thought his plan to slim his company down would satisfy his chief critic—and he almost certainly did not—he has been disappointed.

Paulson & Co. yesterday pooh-poohed McGee's planned strategic review to consider splitting its main business lines, calling it merely a "first step."

"We do not believe that today's actions will materially increase P&C investor interest," Paulson said, referring to Hartford's property-casualty business. "While we appreciate the extensive work of The Hartford's board and management, we do not believe the positive actions announced today address the main problem with The Hartford's valuation."

The tone of that comment is, at least, more conciliatory than Paulson's recent pronouncements on the Hartford. In a conference call last month, firm founder John Paulson blasted McGee, saying he needs to "overcome the obstacles… not merely to point out that there's obstacles."

Paulson is Hartford's largest shareholder with an 8.5% stake.

In addition to the strategic review, Hartford said it would leave the annuity business and would consider selling its broker-dealer and retirement investment units.

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