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McKenney assumes CEO role at Unum’s annual meeting

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After 12 years as chief executive officer of Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) , Thomas R. Watjen retired at the company’s annual shareholder meeting today and Richard P. McKenney assumed the role of CEO.

“For many years we have been committed to a rigorous leadership development and succession planning process,” Watjen said. “We are well-positioned for the future and I step back knowing that Unum is in very good hands and poised for even greater things ahead.”

Watjen will stay active with the company as he begins a two-year term as chairman of the board of directors, with former chairman William J. Ryan being appointed lead independent director.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Tom for his extraordinary service to Unum over his long tenure,” said Ryan. “His strategic insight and commitment to excellence has not only produced steadily improving operating results and shareholder returns under challenging conditions, but also built Unum into a clear industry leader that is well positioned to capitalize on favorable market dynamics in the years ahead. We’re thankful that Unum will continue to benefit from Tom’s expertise in his new role as chairman, which will ensure that we have continuity at both the board and management levels.”

“I’m delighted that we will continue to benefit from Tom’s insight as chairman over the next two years,” McKenney added. “We will continue the momentum of Tom’s work, stay true to the principles that have gotten us where we are today, and continue to follow our successful strategy.”

McKenney told shareholders that despite the challenges of the low-interest-rate environment, he has confidence in Unum’s ability to capitalize on the opportunities ahead and realize unparalleled market potential.

“Unum is stronger today than ever before, and we understand the responsibility we have to build on this foundation,” McKenney said. “Our world will continue to change at an ever-more-rapid pace, and by continuing to anticipate the needs of our customers and remaining disciplined, we will be well-positioned to deliver even greater value for our stakeholders in the years ahead.”

McKenney made mention of other strengths that align the company for growth, such as high customer satisfaction, a strong brand reputation and corporate citizenship efforts, all backed by the daily commitment of nearly 10,000 employees.

“Few companies have as rich a culture and history as Unum,” McKenney said. “The real drivers of our success are our employees throughout the U.S., U.K. and Ireland who approach each work day with a passion for helping others.”

Last year, Unum paid $6.7 billion in benefits to help protect the future of workers and their families and, in its group disability business alone, helped more than 230,000 people return to work and a productive lifestyle.

While doing so, the company advanced its position in its markets, growing operating earnings per share, for the ninth consecutive year, by 6.9 percent. Total return on equity across all business lines was 11.4 percent.

Unum repurchased $301 million of its stock in 2014, for a total of $2.8 billion in repurchased shares since 2007. The company also increased its dividend by 13.8 percent, the sixth consecutive year of double-digit increases.

“The need for our products and services has never been greater, and we approach this opportunity from a position of competitive and financial strength,” McKenney said.

Also at today’s meeting, Unum shareholders voted to re-elect 10 directors for terms expiring in 2016: Cynthia L. Egan, former president of T. Rowe Price Retirement Plan Services Inc.; Pamela H. Godwin, president of Change Partners Inc.; Timothy F. Keaney, former vice chairman of BNY Mellon; Thomas Kinser, former president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; Gloria C. Larson, president of Bentley University; A.S. (Pat) McMillan Jr., CEO of Triaxia Partners Inc.; Richard P. McKenney, president and CEO of Unum Group; Edward J. Muhl, former national leader of the Insurance Regulatory Advisory Practice of PWC; William J. Ryan, lead independent director and former chairman of Unum Group and former chairman, president and CEO of TD Banknorth; and Thomas R. Watjen, chairman of the board of Unum Group. Ronald E. Goldsberry, chairman of the governance committee, has reached mandatory retirement age and is retiring from the board effective at the end of the day.

Additionally, shareholders approved the company’s executive compensation and ratified the appointment of Ernst & Young LLP as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm.


Unum Group ( is a leading provider of financial protection benefits in the United States and the United Kingdom. Its primary businesses are Unum US, Colonial Life and Unum UK. Unum’s portfolio includes disability, life, accident and critical illness coverage, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. The company reported revenues of $10.5 billion in 2014, and provided $6.7 billion in benefits.

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