(Adds quotes and detail from conference call, profit figures, stock price)
NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) - Chubb Ltd’s chief executive officer on Wednesday crushed the idea of buying its smaller insurance rival, the Hartford Financial Services Group Inc, saying “the chapter with the Hartford is closed.”
Chubb had said last week it was “disappointed” that Hartford had rebuffed its second and third takeover bids, weeks after the acquisition target declined to engage in talks on Chubb’s first $23.24 billion proposal.
During a conference call with analysts, CEO Evan Greenberg said the Hartford deal was just one of many possible acquisitions and that the company was in no rush to make a purchase.
“The money is not burning a hole in our pocket,” Greenberg said.
“Look, the chapter with the Hartford is closed. We have moved along,” Greenberg said in response to an analyst’s question. “And beyond that, “I’m not going to now engage and talk about past events.”
Chubb on Tuesday posted an adjusted operating profit of $2.52 a share for the first quarter, beating the average expectation of 18 analysts for $2.49. The earnings estimate had fallen 14.2% in the last three months, and in the last 30 days 14 analysts revised earnings estimates downward.
Chubb’s stock was down 0.5% at $165.73 a share in Wednesday morning trading. The Hartford was down 4.7% at $66.23 a share.
Earlier in the call, Greenberg said he was confident that strong pricing will continue in its commercial property-and-casualty business, a reference to rising premiums. But he rejected analysts’ concerns about the rate of premium increase slowing, calling it an “obsession.”
He said Chubb had achieved its target rate of return in parts of its businesses and as they achieve that rate, he said, “do you need to keep increasing rates?” (Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Sohini Podder in Bangalore; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)