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CNO Sells Conseco Life, Strengthening Its Position

By Jeff Swiatek, The Indianapolis Star
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 03--Carmel-based CNO Financial Group has sold its Conseco Life subsidiary -- the long-troubled insurer that its ex-CEO Steve Hilbert once headed as he built a Fortune 500 insurance giant that later slid into bankruptcy.

CNO said it netted $220 million in the sale to Wilton Reassurance Co. of Wilton, Conn.

With the sale of the subsidiary complete on Tuesday, ratings company Standard & Poor's upgraded CNO's financial rating to BB+ from BB. S&P said the divestiture of Conseco Life decreased CNO's earnings volatility, according to Bloomberg News.

"The sale of CLIC marks a significant milestone for CNO," said Ed Bonach, chief executive of CNO, in a statement. "This transaction reduces the go-forward risk profile of the company and will allow management to focus on our core businesses serving the needs of the fast-growing and underserved middle market."

The Conseco name was formerly on Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Downtown home of the Indiana Pacers that now is named for another CNO subsidiary. Conseco emerged from bankruptcy in 2003 and took on the CNO holding company name in 2010.

CNO recorded a net loss of $298 million in the first quarter related to the then-pending sale of Conseco Life.

Conseco Life's past problems included charges by Florida and Iowa insurance regulators in 2009 that the company misled customers and underfunded their policies; a $750,000 fine in 2007 by Iowa's insurance division; and a class-action lawsuit filed in 2004 by policyholders that alleged fraud in the sale of universal life policies.

INDYSTAR: Business news

Call Star reporter Jeff Swiatek at (317)444-6483. Follow him on Twitter: @JeffSwiatek

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(c)2014 The Indianapolis Star

Visit The Indianapolis Star at www.IndyStar.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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