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The Hartford to forgo buybacks in favor of investing for growth, CEO says

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. will keep acquisitions at the fore of its capital deployment strategy going into 2019 rather than share repurchases, Chairman and CEO Christopher Swift said.

During the company's second-quarter earnings call, Swift sought to address speculation that the sale of Talcott Resolution might prompt the company to resume stock buybacks. While The Hartford previously prioritized repurchases and debt reduction in capital management, for now, growth through M&A will remain the emphasis for using excess capital.

"If we conclude that there is not an alternative option to support growth, a share buyback plan could be put into place relatively quickly," Swift said.

Pressed on the matter while fielding questions, Swift said The Hartford chose not to announce any repurchase authorization it did not want to send mixed signals to the market. There will be no share repurchases in the near future, he added.

The company is not sitting on a great deal of excess capital, but it could build up, said Swift. The Hartford has debt coming to maturity in 2019 that the company will be inclined to pay down, CFO Beth Bombara said.

Asked what type of deal The Hartford could be in the market for, Swift noted that the company has generally gone after companies in the $2 billion premium range.