ITT HARTFORD TO CUT STAFF BY 300 WITHIN SIX MONTHS

ITT HARTFORD TO CUT STAFF BY 300 WITHIN SIX MONTHS

Within six months, some 300 full- and part-time ITT Hartford Insurance Group employees will be eliminated from the company.

Almost 200 employees were alerted Wednesday morning that "their jobs would be eliminated," company spokeswoman Sue Honeyman said.The cuts will hit "support services" including the insurer's corporate relations, corporate planning, government affairs, human resources, law, and security operations, she said.

"It's not the people who create or sell the insurance products."

Most of the cuts will be in the company's corporate headquarters in Connecticut, where the company employs almost 9,000 of its 19,000 workers.

The changes follow a four-month evaluation by McKinsey & Co. The consulting firm finished its study of ITT Corp.'s eight major divisions at the end of September.

"We promised our employees we'd report to them as soon as possible after the McKinsey people left us," Ms. Honeyman said.

The parent is a conglomerate that owns the Sheraton hotels and other businesses including auto parts and forest products. Recently it agreed to pay $400 million for a controlling stake in a General Motors Corp. unit that makes electric motors, windshield wiper units and other components.

ITT Corp. is "on a major push to improve its profitability," said Phua K. Young, research analyst at Lehman Bros., in New York.

ITT Hartford, the nation's 9th-largest property and casualty insurer with $4.8 billion in domestic 1992 premiums, is the largest portion of the ITT empire.

Lehman Bros. estimates that by the end of 1993, it will represent $650 million worth of a projected $1.7 billion in operating income for the parent this year, Mr. Young said Thursday.

''What's happening at Hartford is what's happening throughout all of corporate America if not the globe," he said. Mr. Young said its streamlining is "absolutely" a positive move that will improve the insurer's cost structure at a time when its earnings have been hurt by continued competition in property and casualty lines.

He observed that ITT Hartford's life insurance business is "growing nicely," aided in part by the business it's picked up from Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., of Newark, a company that was declared insolvent in 1991.

At the same time, the property and casualty insurance sector "remains competitive," said Mr. Young.

Worldwide, the company wrote $5.9 billion in P/C premium and $1.3 billion in life and health insurance premium last year.

While an eight-year cycle of rate wars in P/C insurance lines has taken its toll on ITT Hartford, Mr. Young said the company's earnings are "much improved" over 1992 when Hurricane Andrew struck and several non-recurring events lead the company to report a $513 million operating loss.

''We are trying to steel ourselves for a more competitive insurance cycle," said Ms. Honeyman. The Hartford spokeswoman personally will lose several co- workers to the restructuring.

''We were 38," in the headquarters office, she said, but refused to comment on how large the corporate affairs department will be in six months.

Those who were alerted of the job cuts Wednesday will remain with the company at least 60 days, Ms. Honeyman said. They will be put into a placement pool designed to find them other jobs at the insurance company.

ITT Hartford plans to cut 300 workers and eliminate even more job titles over the months to come, Ms. Honeyman said.

The insurer previously eliminated 500 jobs between 1988 and 1989.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Co. is also assisting Charlotte, N.C.-based Royal Insurance, which is scouring its 1,000-member work force for cost- cutting ideas likely to reduce the number of jobs there.

Employment in the U.S. property and casualty insurance industry fell to 607,800 people last December compared with 616,800 people in December 1991 and 619,900 a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.