A Midwestern insurer is replacing a top executive.

Conseco Inc., Carmel, Ind., says William Kirsch, the company’s president, will step down from his posts as president, chief executive and director May 23.

James Hohmann, Conseco’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer, will become interim chief executive, and Conseco will launch a search, “both internally and externally,” for a permanent chief executive, according to Conseco Chairman Glenn Hilliard.

“Kirsch has agreed to assist Conseco with transitional issues through Aug. 31,” Conseco says.

Conseco ran into financial trouble several years ago as a result of problems with acquisitions of consumer finance companies. The company emerged from bankruptcy court protection in September 2003. Since then, the company has strengthened the finances of its insurance company units. Fitch Ratings recently increased the rating on Conseco’s senior unsecured debt 1 notch, to BBB.

Kirsch has been president of Conseco for 21 months.

Kirsch says in a statement that he became Conseco’s chief executive to “lead the company’s transformation and take it to the next level.”

“Having accomplished this goal, including significant ratings improvements and recruiting a best-in-class senior management team, I look forward to spending quality time with my family and exploring new opportunities,” Kirsch says in the statement.

Hilliard says Kirsch’s leadership has been central to moving Conseco forward.

Hohmann, the temporary chief executive, was president of XL Life and Annuity, a unit of XL Capital Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda, from 2001 to 2004. He also has spent 3 years as chief actuary at Zurich Kemper Life, Long Grove, Ill.