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Umbrella-Less: Traveler Finance Exec to Safeco

Mead faces turnaround situation at struggling insurance company. Plus: new CFOs at California Micro, Arch Capital.
Jennifer CaplanJanuary 25, 2002
  • Managers at insurer Safeco Corp. appointed former Travelers Insurance executive Christine Mead to the CFO post. Mead replaces Rod Pierson, who retired.

    Mead was previously CFO of the property casualty unit of Travelers, a unit of Citigroup Inc. Prior to joining Travelers in 1989, Mead was an accountant at Deloitte, Haskins & Sells in Bristol, England. She also worked at Price Waterhouse Philadelphia. Mead holds a B.S. in accounting from University College in Cardiff in the United Kingdom.

    “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play a role in [Safeco’s] turnaround efforts,” Mead said in a statement. The company could use some help. Last month Safeco managers announced that fourth-quarter profits would be worse than expected, due in part to the company’s exposure to bankrupt energy trader Enron Corp. The company also reported big losses in its homeowner insurance business. For the nine months ended September 1, Safeco’s revenues fell 1 percent to $5.16 billion. Net losses totaled $1.05 billion versus an income of $95.7 million in the year-ago period. (For a closer look at the fortunes of turnaround CFOs, see “Meet the Boss”).

    Despite the loss, Safeco’s stock has held steady. The share price of Safeco stock closed around $29.01 on Thursday, close to a 52-week high of $32.95.

  • Officials at Arch Capital Group Ltd., an insurance and reinsurance company, tapped John Vollaro as chief financial officer. The CFO post is a new position at the Bermuda-based Arch, which has more than $1 billion in equity capital.

    Prior to joining the company, Vollaro spent 26 years at insurer W.R. Berkley Corp. He held a variety of positions at Berkley, including CFO of the company’s reinsurance subsidiary, Signet Star Holdings Inc. Vollaro began his career at the accounting firm of KPMG.

    In the third quarter of 2001, Arch Capital reported net income of $892,000 (7 cents per share). That’s a notable decline from the $2.3 million (18 cents per share) in income recorded in Q3 of 2000.

  • Kenneth Thornbrugh is the new head of finance at California Micro Devices Corp., a maker of specialized integrated circuits. Thornbrugh joined the Milpitas, Calif.-based company last month as director of financial planning and analysis. He replaces John Trewin, who resigned to pursue other opportunities.