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posted: 7/18/2011 10:56 AM

President of Allstate Protection unit leaves

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Associated Press

Nortthbrook-based Allstate Corp. said Monday that the president of its struggling Allstate Protection subsidiary was leaving the company immediately. Its shares fell more than 5 percent in midday trading.

The company gave no explanation for the departure of Joseph Lacher, who led the unit selling auto and homeowner's insurance since November 2009.

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Citigroup analyst Keith F. Walsh called Lacher's departure a negative that would depress Allstate stock and delay the Protection unit's turnaround.

The shares dropped $1.64, or 5.6 percent, to $27.83 in midday trading.

Walsh said Lacher was brought in to fix the underperforming unit. Allstate's auto-market share fell between 2007 and 2010 while Progressive Corp. and Geico gained customers, and the homeowner's business also lagged rivals, he said.

Allstate said that until it hires a replacement for Lacher, the presidents of businesses in the Allstate Protection unit and the heads of claims and product operations would report directly to CEO Thomas J. Wilson.

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