Before becoming an attorney, Andrew Diaz-Matos was a philosophy major at Boston University in search of a career path. Deciding to pursue law was a revelation, he says, as it was a “thrilling intersection” of logic, rhetoric, and business. His first project when clerking at the international law firm of White & Case was working on an acquisition. It was life-changing. Diaz-Matos found his niche in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In 2013, he was promoted to the role of vice president, assistant general counsel, and director of enterprise transactions law at the Hartford. His promotion came at an incredibly dynamic time of transition for the leading insurance group and Diaz-Matos has been at the center of the action.
The $1.5 Billion Deal
In March 2012, the Hartford’s president and CEO, Liam E. McGee, announced an initiative to focus on three of the company’s businesses: property and casualty, group benefits, and mutual funds. Diaz-Matos’s extensive experience in M&A made him the perfect candidate for helping to lead the charge. His work was an integral part of a $1.5 billion deal, selling the Hartford’s individual life insurance business to Prudential Financial, Inc. The sale, closed in January 2013, was just one of three major transactions the Hartford finalized in the span of 10 months.
“The challenge of doing three deals at once when your chairman has publicized the strategies to the markets is that you feel like the world is watching,” Diaz-Matos laughs. A lot of M&A work is done behind the scenes, but this deal was quite public. The Hartford had excellent functional experts on the team—Diaz-Matos says he had an amazing team that barely slept for the 10 months leading up to the completion of the deals. “Complex M&A transactions are the most exciting to me,” he says. “Though the work was stressful, I loved it.”
Strengthening the Retirement Plan
The second of the three deals was the sale of the Hartford’s retirement plans business to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) for $600 million. The deal was emblematic of the Hartford’s renewed focus on returning to its primary strength: insurance underwriting. As part of the agreement, the Hartford continued to sell new retirement plans during the transition period, and MassMutual assumed all expenses and risk for the sales.
“In completing one deal of this magnitude, you can’t leave a single stone unturned while at the same time you’re managing dozens of competing interests,” Diaz-Matos says. A constant assessment is required. He asks himself: Where is the deal? What needs to be completed? What are the specifics? What are the challenges today? And what could the challenges be tomorrow?
Making the Hartford More Efficient
The last in the trilogy of deals, announced during the summer of 2012, was the sale of Woodbury Financial Services to American International Group, Inc. Diaz-Matos still vividly recalls the volumes, featuring hundreds and hundreds of pages, outlining the specifics of the transactions. Sighing heavily, he says it was a “tremendous amount of work, but it was well worth it.” At the core of it all, the three deals made the Hartford more efficient.
“If you boil it down, we’re just narrowing our focus down to our expertise,” Diaz-Matos says. “If there’s any unifying theme here, it’s bringing a tremendous amount of value to our business by being strategic and making this series of sophisticated deals.”
The Hartford will undoubtedly continue to move forward as a result. Having reaped the benefits of lessons learned and experienced gained, Diaz-Matos says the team and skills are in place to make any future transactions operate smoothly.