SAFECO TAKES ANOTHER HIT

SAFECO will experience higher than expected underwriting losses in its large commercial and homeowners lines, slowing third-quarter profit improvement sharply. The company’s overall combined ratio is expected to be in the 110-111 range, a slight improvement over the second quarter, and operating earnings are expected to be between 5 and 10 cents a share. Continuing adverse trends in workers’ compensation and commercial auto, and adverse development of claims from catastrophe losses in homeowners in the second quarter are expected to impact third-quarter results. The company will report third-quarter results on Oct. 23. SAFECO has also hired Russell Reynolds Associates, a global executive search firm, to conduct the search for a new chief executive officer. The announcement comes two months after Roger Eigsti, current chairman and CEO, announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31, 2000. Russell Reynolds will conduct the search through its Chicago office on behalf of SAFECO’s board of directors.