Conseco investor seeks board member’s ouster-WEB ONLY

A Florida-based investor wants his fellow shareholders in Conseco Inc. to install him on the company’s board of directors, saying the board has failed for more than five years to act in shareholders’ interests.

Roger Keith Long, an Indiana University alumnus, runs Otter Creek Management, which owns 1.4 million shares, or less than 1 percent, of Carmel-based Conseco’s common stock.

Long made his proposal to shareholders in a securities filing yesterday in advance of Conseco’s annual shareholders meeting on May 12.

He wants shareholders to vote him onto Conseco’s board in place of Philip R. Roberts, a retiree who was an investment officer at Mellon Financial Corp.

Roberts joined the Conseco board in September 2003 when the company emerged from a nine-month bankruptcy reorganization.

Since then, Conseco’s share price has plunged 94 percent. It reached new lows last month before Conseco restructured its bank loans by paying higher interest in exchange for looser restrictions.

“Despite raising over $1 billion in fresh capital since its 2003 reorganization, we believe the company finds itself in a challenged liquidity position which has led to an onerous restructuring of its credit lines,” Long wrote in his proposal. “We believe that the election of a truly independent director with a fresh perspective and a willingness to explore all alternatives will significantly enhance the ability of the company’s stockholders to regain lost stockholder value and create future gains.”

In the past, Long as served as chairman of the board of two publicly traded insurance companies, Financial Industries Corp. and Financial Institutions Insurance Group Ltd.

Conseco’s stock was up 4 cents this morning, to $1.33 per share.

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