Travelers CEO Fishman Reduces Outside Activities Due To Health

By | January 23, 2015

Travelers Cos. Chief Executive Officer Jay Fishman is reducing his activities that aren’t tied to the company after being diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition.

“I have already begun to cut back fairly meaningfully on my non-Travelers commitments,” Fishman, 62, said in a conference call Thursday in New York. While Fishman may continue to be involved in some philanthropic efforts, he’s limiting duties beyond the insurer “to focus relentlessly on what matters here,” he said.

Fishman announced the diagnosis in November, saying that he may be seen with a cane or other gear to help him get around. He didn’t name the specific illness and didn’t say today what roles he may scale back. He is a director at Exxon Mobil Corp. and Carlyle Group LP and is chairman of the New York City Ballet.

Under Fishman’s leadership, Travelers reported profits through the financial crisis and avoided mortgage-related investments that hurt rivals’ balance sheets. Fishman has charged some clients more for insurance to maintain returns as lower bond yields pressured investment income.

“I do continue to feel OK,” Fishman said on the call. “I’m here, I’m on the job, I’m still mobile. It’s a little clunkier than it was.”

Travelers rose 1.3 percent to $106.39 at 11:49 a.m. in New York. The company has gained about 26 percent in the past 12 months.

Christopher Ullman, a spokesman for New York-based Carlyle, referred questions to Travelers. Exxon Mobil didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Fishman was “making a broad comment and will make decisions on a case-by-case basis,” Patrick Linehan, a spokesman for the insurer, said by phone. “Importantly, he reiterated his commitment to Travelers.”

‘Next Generation’

The insurer reorganized management last year after the departure of Bill Cunningham, the former executive vice president of business insurance who became CEO of IAT Reinsurance Co. Doreen Spadorcia and Alan Schnitzer took on added responsibilities running units, and report to Chief Operating Officer Brian MacLean.

“If there’s anything about my circumstance that causes me to change my view of my ability to continue to work here, if it did, I’d have something else to say,” Fishman said. “If you look and see what we’ve done and what we’ve announced, it doesn’t take a real genius to see what we’re doing and what the next generation of leadership here is.”

Related:
Travelers Q4 Profit Jumps 5% to $1.04B, Underwriting Gain Rises
Travelers Will Continue to Seek Improved Pricing: CEO Fishman
Travelers CEO: Will Insurers Outperform More Regulated Banks?

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