Insurance News

COO Blackburn set to retire at State Auto

Posted on: January 23, 2011

Insurance veteran Mark Blackburn will retire State Auto Financial Corp. in November, has resigned from the company?s board of directors and has given up his positions as chief operating officer and executive vice president, State Auto said Monday.

Blackburn, 59, joined the company in 1999 after working executive-level jobs at Grange Mutual Casualty Group and General Reinsurance Corp. He was named COO in 2008.

State Auto (NASDAQ:STFC)will not appoint a replacement COO or executive vice president, but has opted to restructure its management, the company said. Blackburn will work in an advisory role until he retires.

?We?ve built a flatter, leaner management structure,? CEO Bob Restrepo said in a release, ?to build on our strategic foundation of people and technology and implement our business strategies focused on underwriting profitability, rational growth, enterprise risk management and capital management.?

The Columbus-based insurer detailed the management restructuring in its release on the changes.

State Auto was buffeted by storm claims and lower investment returns in 2010.

For the first nine months of the year, State Auto posted a loss of $13.1 million, or 33 cents a share, more than triple its loss of $4.2 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue at the company, however, grew during the third quarter to $340.7 million from $324.5 million for the same quarter in 2009. The company is expected to release its fourth-quarter 2010 results Feb. 17.

?I have every confidence that we have the momentum underway that will restore State Auto?s traditional underwriting profitability and sustain our newfound growth,? Restrepo said in the Jan. 17 announcement detailing the management changes.

Business First

Date: Monday, January 17, 2011, 11:28am EST

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