LOS ANGELES, Jan. 5 — Mercury General Corporation (NYSE: MCY), a major California automobile insurer with operations in a number of other states, reported today that Cooper Blanton, Executive Vice President, was appointed Chairman of the Board of the American Mercury Insurance Group (AMI). The financial results of AMI, which was purchased for cash in December 1996, have not met Company expectations. The appointment of Cooper Blanton as the top executive will provide AMI with the direction needed to grow and attain underwriting profitability.
Mr. Blanton has been with the Company for over thirty years and served as Vice President in charge of Underwriting until 1995. Mr. Blanton helped build the system infrastructure which enabled Mercury to grow from a small non- standard writer in California to the largest agency writer of private passenger auto insurance in the state. In 1995, Mr. Blanton was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of the Illinois and Georgia subsidiaries. Under Mr. Blanton’s leadership, the Georgia and Illinois companies have gone from producing an underwriting loss to producing an underwriting profit. Year-to-date through September 1998, the Georgia and Illinois companies have produced combined ratios of approximately 92% and 85%, respectively. Mr. Blanton will continue to oversee the Georgia and Illinois companies in addition to his new role at AMI.