March 5, 2009

Hartford reportedly considering sale

Struggling U.S. insurance giant Hartford Financial Services Group is fishing for offers for portions of its business, reports said.

The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported Thursday the insurance company is in discussions with Canada's Sun Life Financial Inc. for possible sale of its life insurance and annuity operations.

Reports say the company broke off similar discussions with MetLife Inc. last month.

Everybody knows The Hartford is desperate, Michael Paisan, an industry analyst at Stifel Nicolaus in New York, told the newspaper. The odds of the company maintaining its current size are very, very low, he said.

Hartford, which has had its ratings downgraded recently, claims it is strong. The company's credit rating is listed as adequate and its ability to pay claims is listed as A or strong the Courant said.

Its stock share price, however, has fallen 92 percent in the past 12 months and the company posted a net loss for 2008 of $2.7 billion.

Company spokeswoman Shannon Lapierre declined to comment on the possibility of any sale.

Sun Life also declined to comment, the Courant said.