(Bloomberg) -- Hanover Insurance Group Inc., a provider of coverage to businesses and individuals, said Chief Executive Officer Frederick Eppinger plans to step down in 2016.
Eppinger, 56, will stay on the job until a replacement is found, the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company said Tuesday in a statement. Michael F. Buckley, a Hanover spokesman, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
Eppinger took over on Sept. 8, 2003, when the insurer was named Allmerica Financial Corp. Hanover’s stock has more than tripled since then, to $81.77 a share at Tuesday’s close in New York. The insurer stopped underwriting variable life and annuity policies the year before he took charge, shifting focus to property and casualty.
“What Fred did was take a regional insurer with some legacy life exposure, and turn it into a burgeoning national carrier with a much more diversified product mix,” Charles Sebaski, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, said in an e-mail. “The next CEO is going to need to understand that Hanover cannot win a price competition, and the means to profitable growth will have to come from another value proposition.”
Property-and-casualty insurers such as Allstate Corp. and Warren Buffett’s Geico have been raising rates for consumers to make up for increased claims cost in auto insurance. Investment portfolios have been pressured by low bond yields.
Hanover’s market capitalization has risen to $3.6 billion from about $1.6 billion in 2003. The stock has gained 15 percent this year, compared with the 3.3 percent loss for the Standard & Poor’s 500Insurance Index.
The board has begun a search for a CEO replacement, Hanover said. Eppinger, who previously worked at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., is looking forward to new professional opportunities, according to the statement.
“Fred made extraordinary contributions to the Hanover during what was a critical period and he has positioned our company for the future,” Hanover Chairman Michael P. Angelini said in the statement.
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