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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.

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.