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Hartford exiting annuity business, refocusing efforts

HARTFORD | Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. is exiting the annuity business so it can focus on its property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds.

The company said that it also is looking to sell or pursue other options for its individual life and retirement plan segments and broker-dealer Woodbury Financial Services. It will continue to seek new business in them in the meantime.

Christopher Swift, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a statement that the individual life, Woodbury Financial Services and retirement plans “will be better positioned for success as part of other organizations.”

Credit Suisse’s Thomas Gallagher said in a client note that Hartford could get between $2 billion and $3 billion by selling the businesses.

Hartford’s announcement comes a little over a month after hedge-fund manager John Paulson urged the company to spin off its property and casualty insurance business, saying that it could boost Hartford’s value to shareholders by 40 percent to 60 percent. He added that breaking up the company would allow management of each new company to focus on what it does best while making each new company more streamlined.

At that time, Hartford said it would review Mr. Paulson’s plan but warned that a breakup wouldn’t be easy.

Mr. Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co. Inc., owns an 8.4 percent stake in Hartford. A representative for the hedge fund could not be reached immediately for comment.

Mr. Gallagher says Hartford’s plan doesn’t achieve the legal separation of businesses that Mr. Paulson was urging.


Frankfurt airport reaches deal with ground staff

BERLIN | A union representing ground staff at Germany’s Frankfurt airport said Wednesday it has reached a deal in its long-running pay dispute with airport operator Fraport AG, ensuring there won’t be more strikes at continental Europe’s second-largest hub.

GdF union spokesman Matthias Maas said both sides agreed to settle the dispute and hammer out the details of a new work contract for the 200 ground staffers by early next week.

“We have an agreement. There will be no further strikes,” Mr. Maas said.

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