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WellPoint hires Chicago-based search firm to find CEO

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WellPoint Inc., the second-biggest U.S. health insurer, has chosen Chicago-based recruiting firm Spencer Stuart & Associates Ltd. to lead its search for a new CEO, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The search firm was chosen over candidates including Chicago-based Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., which already has a contract with WellPoint for other recruiting work, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision.

Former CEO Angela Braly resigned Aug. 28 after weeks of investor unrest over the Indianapolis-based insurer’s sliding profit forecasts and falling enrollments. The company has said it expects the replacement search to take three to six months.

“As we have previously disclosed, the board has established a search committee, and will retain an outside executive search firm to help manage the process of selecting WellPoint’s next chief executive,” said Kristin Binns, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Spencer Stuart has previously led executive and board director hunts for companies including Facebook Inc., Comcast Corp. and Talbots Inc. The firm also was hired by Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s largest personal-computer maker, in August 2010 for the search that installed Leo Apotheker as CEO, before he was pushed out 11 months later amid declining sales.

James Horton, a spokesman for Spencer Stuart, didn’t return an e-mail and phone call after business hours seeking comment about the WellPoint hiring.

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