Argo Group International Holdings has appointed interim CEO Kevin Rehnberg to the job officially, capping what has been a tumultuous year for the Bermuda-based specialty insurer and reinsurer.
Rehnberg became interim CEO at Argo in November 2019, after the abrupt retirement of long-time leader Mark Watson III. Watson and the Argo board had come under fire from activist shareholder Voce Capital Management LLC earlier in 2019 for alleged excessive spending on areas including a corporate jet and luxury housing for Watson, something Watson and the company both denied.
“It is an honor to take on this role and collaborate with such a talented team,” Rehnberg said in prepared remarks. “We will continue to serve our customers and partners – pursuing strong results through operational excellence and innovative solutions.”
Before becoming interim CEO, Rehnberg had served as chief administrative officer and head of the Americas business starting in January 2019. Previously, he was president of Argo’s U.S. operations and had been with Argo for several years. Prior to Argo, Rehnberg was executive vice president for specialty lines at OneBeacon Insurance, where he oversaw specialty underwriting operations and acquired and built new lines of specialty business. He also has held various positions at The St. Paul Travelers Companies, Liberty International and Chubb.
Tough Year, and a New Chairman
Argo has faced a difficult period since Voce first began to publicize its concerns about the board’s spending habits. It has also moved to address Voce’s criticisms. Late last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission moved to investigate Argo’s disclosures about executive compensation. But Argo has also previously announced a plan for independent directors to review governance and compensation issues, and it has inked a cooperation agreement with Voce addressing the matter. As well, Argo disclosed an expected expense of roughly $18 million involving the planned sale of assets including a corporate aircraft and other real estate properties, as well as costs related to Watson’s departure. The disclosure was part of a warning that Argo would sustain a $114 million underwriting loss in the 2019 fourth quarter.
In December, Argo said that five directors would retire as of the company’s annual meeting, as part of a “proactive refreshment process.”
Now that Rehnberg is officially CEO, he has also been nominated to stand for election to the company’s board of directors at its planned April 16, 2020 annual meeting.
In a related move, Argo appointed Thomas Bradley to serve as chairman of the board of directors once current board chairman Gary Woods retires after his term concludes at the April 16 annual meeting.
Woods, in prepared remarks, said Bradley’s “strategic vision for the business and intense focus on the highest standards of corporate governance will benefit our customers, shareholders and employees.”
He said Rehnberg’s appointment as permanent CEO comes after the executive proved himself as “a results-oriented” leader.
Woods joined Argo’s board in 2000 and has served as chairman since 2001.
Bradley became a director for Argo Group in 2018. He retired from Allied World Assurance Company Holdings AG in 2017, where he had served as chief financial officer and executive vice president since 2012. Bradley was previously executive vice president and chief financial officer at two other public companies: Fair Isaac Corporation and The St. Paul Companies. He held senior financial and operational positions at Zurich North America.
Source: Argo Group