Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Usf&g to Cut 2,000 Jobs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Usf&g to Cut 2,000 Jobs

Article excerpt

BALTIMORE (AP) - USF&G Corp. on Thursday announced it was cutting nearly 2,000 jobs and merging 14 branch offices, austerity measures that the troubled insurance conglomerate said would save $100 million.

The job cuts expand on previously announced reductions that will decrease the company's workforce 25 percent by year's end, the company said.

USF&G also will focus more efforts on its core products, property and casualty insurance, which comprise 60 percent of the company's business, spokeswoman Kerrie Burch-DeLuca said.

The Baltimore-based insurer ``is commencing a series of strategic initiatives to concentrate its resources on those areas where it has a strong competitive position and prospects for attractive return on investment,'' said Norman P. Blake Jr., who took over as chairman and chief executive in November.

The company gave pink slips to 225 employees Thursday in Baltimore, Burch-DeLuca said. Another 1,700 jobs will be slashed companywide by the end of the year, she said. Those job cuts were at all levels, including vice presidents, the spokeswoman said, but declined to further specify which jobs will be eliminated.

Industry analysts said it was too soon to say if the changes would turn around a company that is one of many struggling through a downturn in the insurance industry.

``My sense is that the new management...is moving quickly to sharpen the focus of the company, to cut out the fat, to be more profit oriented,'' said Dennis Callaghan, an analyst at Alex. Brown Inc.

``I'm optimistic that his (Blake's) efforts will succeed. At the same time, the effort could use a little bit of luck and that would come from a better economy and a better pricing environment in their core business, property casualty,'' Callaghan said.

Gloria Vogel, analyst with Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York, also praised the company's sharper focus. …

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