Empresas y finanzas

Paulson demands breakup of The Hartford

BOSTON (Reuters) - Famed hedge fund manager John Paulson on Tuesday demanded that insurer The Hartford Financial Services Group break itself into two companies, escalating a confrontation that began with screams on a conference call last week.

Paulson, on a February 8 conference call with analysts, angrily insisted the company needed to take "drastic" action after management said a breakup into two companies faced too many challenges to work.

Paulson rejected that assertion and on Tuesday said a tax-free spinoff of the property and casualty insurance business would give shareholders as much as 60 percent more value than they are getting now.

"Given the extremely poor performance of HARTFORD (HIG.NY)s stock and the fact that Hartford trades at lower valuation multiples than any of its U.S. insurance peers, addressing these issues should be Hartford's highest priority," Paulson said in a letter to management.

Hartford shares rose 5 percent in after-hours trade on news of the letter. A spokesman for the company was not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting By Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Bernard Orr)