Glimmer of Good News for Private Placement Insurance Employees of The Hartford

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For some time now, the employees of the private placement insurance unit of The Hartford Financial Services Group were worried about their fate once the giant insurance company announced it was selling the unit. Those worries have been abated somewhat now that the Philadelphia Financial Group, which bought the business, finalized the deal.

According to a report from The Hartford Courant, employees received offers for comparable jobs with Philadelphia Financial. The article also notes that the deal takes Philadelphia Financial’s employee count from 34 to 115. “None of the workers are based in Connecticut, with all 81 employees at Florham Park, N.J.,” the news report states.

David Bedard, executive vice president at The Hartford, noted in a press release the sale was part of the continued move to “sharpen focus on its core operations.” The Hartford announced plans to focus the insurer’s attention and resources on its property and casualty, group benefits and mutual funds businesses, following pressure from its largest shareholder and one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Paulson & Co., founded and led by billionaire John A. Paulson.

In April, The Hartford also agreed to sell Houston-based financial services company Forethought its individual annuity product management, distribution and marketing units, as well as the suite of products currently being sold. The insurer also stopped new annuity sales and put its existing individual annuity business into runoff. The insurer is also looking to sell or pursue “other strategic alternatives” for its individual life insurance, Woodbury Financial Services brokerage, and retirement plan businesses.

Prior moves to shore up the balance sheet and recover from investment losses brought considerable rounds of layoffs at The Hartford in the past four years. The 2011 headcount stood at 24,400, down from 31,000 at the end of 2008. As one of the biggest employers in Connecticut and with its headquarters in the state, the job losses at the insurer have hit local residents there the hardest.