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Remember the old ad campaign, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” in which a crowded, noisy room would go so quiet you could hear a pin drop whenever the sponsor’s name was mentioned. There have never been many people who could silence a room like that in the insurance business, but Ramani Ayer was one of them.

The iconic chair and CEO at The Hartford already has one foot out the door after being pretty much hounded into promising to retire at year’s end. That’s not a surprise, given the company’s recent financial woes, prompting Mr. Ayer to go hat in hand to Uncle Sam for $3.4 billion in bailout money.

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