Conseco shareholder mulls doubling stake

May 19, 2008
Steel Partners II said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing yesterday that it is considering escalating its stake in Conseco Inc. from 10 percent to 22 percent.

New York-based Steel Partners also said Conseco directors have been "slow" to implement a strategic review launched in March.

"Return on equity of Conseco Insurance Group is inadequate and needs to be improved as quickly as possible," Steel Partners said in the filing.

Conseco announced March 17 that the Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley had been hired to help explore "strategic alternatives."

At the time, Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Jukka Lipponen said the possibility of a sale resulting from the review would be "very unlikely," mainly because Conseco's substantial exposure to long-term care insurance would make it an unattractive target.

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