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C-Suite Changes: Northwestern, Phoenix, AIG

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The board of Northwestern Mutual has elected Edward Zore to be chairman.

Zore, 63, chief executive officer at Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee, will continue to be the company’s CEO.

The position of chairman has been vacant since James Ericson retired in 2001.

John Schlifske, 49, who has been president of Northwestern Mutual’s Russell Investments unit, will be take over from Zore as the company’s president.

Schlifske and Gary Poliner, 56, executive vice president-investment products and services at Northwestern Mutual, both were elected to the company’s board.

Poliner will continue to be an executive vice president and also will become the company’s chief risk officer.

Zore has been president of Northwestern Mutual since 2000 and CEO since 2001. He was born in Milwaukee and joined the company in 1969 as a stock trader.

Zore has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Like Zore, Schlifske was born in Milwaukee. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Carleton College and a master’s degree in finance from Northwestern University. He began working for Northwestern Mutual in 1987 as an investment specialist.

In other news about top-level insurance company positions:

- Phoenix Companies Inc., Hartford, says Dona Young, 55, the chairman and CEO, is retiring after 29 years at the company.

James Wehr, 51, the company’s senior executive vice president and chief investment officer, was promoted to president and chief executive officer.

Thomas Johnson was named non-executive chairman.

Young will step down from the Phoenix board and serve as a consultant to the company for one year, Phoenix says.

“Dona Young’s commitment to this company and its people is unmatched,” Peter Browning, lead director of Phoenix, says in a statement about her departure. “She has been CEO during one of the most difficult periods in the company’s 158-year history, and throughout those 6 years, demonstrated steadfast leadership, courage and foresight.”

Wehr’s financial markets experience should be helpful at helping him lead Phoenix during current conditions, Browning says.

“My entire career has been at Phoenix, which made this a particularly difficult decision,” Young says in a statement of her own. “Ultimately, however, I determined that it was the right time to make the change for the company and for my family. Obviously, the past several months have been challenging as never before, and Jim Wehr’s deep market expertise has been invaluable. Clearly, Jim is ready to lead the company at this critical point in its history. The management team is deep and strong, and the board is experienced and resourceful. I look forward to working with Jim and the board to assure a seamless transition and as a consultant for the next year.”

Wehr, who has worked for Phoenix since 1981, has a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University and a master’s degree in business from the University of Connecticut.

Johnson, 68, is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of GreenPoint Financial Corp.,

- American International Group Inc., New York, has named Rodney Martin Jr., an executive vice president, chairman of international life and retirement services.

Martin will oversee units such as American International Assurance Company Ltd., American Life Insurance Company, AIG Star Life Insurance Company Ltd., AIG Edison Life Insurance Company and Nan Shan Life Insurance Company Ltd.

Martin also will b chairman of ALICO and chairman of AIA.

Martin will succeed Edmund Tse, 71, who is an AIG senior vice chairman.

Tse is retiring after 48 years at AIG.

Tse, who is scheduled to step down May 13, will continue to be honorary chairman of AIA and non-executive chairman of both Nan Shan and the Philippine American Life and General Insurance Company.

Tse has been a senior vice chairman at AIG since 2001.

Tse has agreed to enter into a service agreement with AIA, AIG says in a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“As part of the agreement, Mr. Tse agreed to abide by certain restrictive covenants and to execute a release of claims in favor of AIG,” AIG says. “Mr. Tse will receive an annual fee of U.S. $250,000 for his service. The agreement is terminable on 30 days notice by either party, in which case the fee would be pro-rated. In addition, Mr. Tse will be eligible to receive a transaction bonus in an amount to be determined by AIG in its sole discretion in the event of a sale or initial public offering of any of AIG’s foreign life operations (subject to limitations imposed by any other agreement or arrangement of AIG).”

Martin, the new chairman of AIG International Life, was elected chairman and chief executive officer of ALICO and chief operating officer of AIG’s Worldwide Life Insurance operations in 2006, and AIG executive vice president life insurance in 2002.

Martin’s appointment is subject to regulatory approval.

AIG’s domestic life and retirement businesses will continue to be run by Matthew Winter, a senior vice president, life insurance, and Jay Wintrob, an executive vice president, retirement services, AIG says.


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