The Travelers Cos. Chairman and CEO Jay Fishman disclosed that he is suffering from a “neuromuscular condition” that might require a cane or other aids in the future to get around. At the same time, he assured employees that he will continue to helm the property/casualty insurance giant.
Fishman disclosed the unexpected news in a letter to employees released by the company late afternoon on Nov. 13 after the markets closed. His revelation follows a long period, he said, where he thought he was simply dealing with a “back problem.”
Here is his letter to employees in its entirety:
“To my partners and friends,
I am writing to let you know that what I thought for a long time was a back problem has been diagnosed as a neuromuscular condition. While fortunately it has so far been slow progressing, you may soon see me with a cane or other gear to help me get around. You should know that I feel good and, with the full support of our Board of Directors, nothing about this circumstance changes my ability or plan to continue as Chairman and CEO. I remain fully engaged and committed.
Two of the things I love so much about my job are being part of an exceptional leadership team, whose experience, commitment and expertise has made us a leader in our industry, and working with all of you. You are an extraordinary group of individuals, and your dedication to doing business the right way has made this place truly exceptional. I am proud to work alongside you.”
He closed the unusual and very personal, and now public, letter with “Sincerely yours, Jay.”
As of Nov. 13, Fishman did not disclose then specific type of neuromuscular condition with which he is dealing.
Fishman’s health news comes less than a month after he led a conference call that detailed stellar 2014 third-quarter results for Travelers. The company booked $919 million in net income during the third quarter, or $2.69 per share, versus $864 million, or $2.30 per share, over the same period a year ago. Net written premiums for the quarter are up 6 percent from last year, operating income is 1 percent higher, and net income per share grew by 17 percent. Operating income per share spiked by 11 percent.
While share repurchases helped improve per-share gains, the combined ratio ticked up to 90, compared to 88.9 in the 2013 third quarter.
“The results this quarter were just terrific,” Fishman said during Travelers’ earnings call.
(Accompanying Photo: Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg)