The boards of directors of Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company and Harleysville Group Inc. announced that Michael L. Browne has been elected chief executive officer and president of Harleysville Mutual and chief executive officer of Harleysville Group. The boards also announced the election of William W. Scranton III as non-executive chairman of the board for the Harleysville companies.
Browne, who has served as non-executive chairman since October 1, 2003 and Scranton will succeed to the positions formerly held by Chairman and CEO Walter R. Bateman, who has retired.
Scranton, who has served as a director of Harleysville Mutual since 1999, praised Browne’s abilities, noting that he “brings to this post a unique blend of strong management skills, diverse insurance industry experience and broad knowledge of the Harleysville organization.” He went on to single out the new CEO’s qualities as a “team builder and a decisive leader,” and added that he “has been actively involved in the steps this organization has taken during the last three quarters to strengthen our management team in key areas, specifically claims, personal lines and our overall insurance operations, as we work to put the results of last year behind us.”
In accepting the appointment, Browne stated: “I am deeply honored to have been selected for this important position and I look forward to guiding the company back to the historic levels of outstanding performance that our employees, investors, agents and policyholders have come to expect. I see in Harleysville and its people the desire and capabilities to return Harleysville to an industry leadership position, and to put the recent issues behind us. However, we are not there yet. We have made some organizational changes in recent months, and one of my first tasks will be to work with our senior management team to ensure that we are properly focused on our priority areas.”
From 1980 to 1983 Browne served as Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner. He has been a director of Harleysville Group since the company’s initial public offering in 1986. Prior to his appointment as CEO, he headed the international insurance practice group at the law firm of Reed Smith, LLP, in Philadelphia, a position he had held since 2001. He joined the firm as a partner in 1983, and served as managing partner of its Delaware Valley regional offices from 1993 through 2000. As managing partner at Reed Smith, Browne guided 12-fold growth in profits at the firm’s Delaware Valley offices, which included operations in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Delaware. He also managed the firm’s expansion efforts and start-up of three offices in two states, and played a leading role in Reed Smith’s successful acquisition of a 60-solicitor law firm in the United Kingdom. Browne earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.
Scranton, a scion of one of Pennsylvania’s most influential families, previously served as the state’s lieutenant governor from 1979 to 1987, during which time he developed and implemented the state’s first energy policy and created the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority. He currently oversees the Scranton Family Office, Scranton, Pa., which is involved in investment management and civic initiatives. Before that, he was the president of three consumer marketing companies in the San Francisco area.
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