USF&G

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USF&G was an American insurance company which existed from 1896 until 1998. Originally called United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company, the Baltimore, Maryland-based company was organized on March 19, 1896, and commenced business on August 1, 1896.[1] John Randolph Bland was the company's principal founder.

In 1970, it built the 37-story, pink granite-clad USF&G Building in Baltimore's Inner Harbor area.[2] The building helped spark economic redevelopment in the area, and continues to be a Baltimore landmark.[3] The USF&G Building remains (as of 2009) Baltimore's tallest building, Maryland's tallest building, and the tallest building between Raleigh, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The insurer formed a holding company for its insurance businesses and changed its name to USF&G in July 1981.[4] It rapidly diversified its businesses, but encountered significant financial difficulties in most of them throughout the 1980s. By 1990, the company was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. That year, Norman Blake was brought in as chief executive officer, and Blake quickly shed business units, fired most of the top management, and refocused the company on its core insurance business so that by 1992 USF&G was once more highly profitable.[5]

USF&G was acquired by the Saint Paul Companies in January 1998 for $2.8 billion.[6] Although the name continues to be used, the company effectively ceased to exist at that time.

Sport sponsorships[edit]

The insurer sponsored the golf tournament known as the New Orleans Open beginning in 1981. In its first year, the tourney was known as the USF&G New Orleans Open, but was retitled the USF&G Classic in 1982.[7] That sponsorship ended in 1991, and the event is now known as the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

From 1987 to 1995, the company sponsored the Sugar Bowl, a post-season college football bowl game.[8]

The company also sponsored the Formula One team Arrows Grand Prix International from 1986 to 1990. In 1988 and 1989 USF & G sponsored the United States Club Lacrosse Association Championship Game that was shown on TV.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Annual Report of the Superintendent of Insurance to the New York Legislature. New York State Insurance Department. Albany, N.Y.: New York Insurance Dept., 1907, p. 188.
  2. ^ "Ground Broken." Washington Post. July 4, 1970.
  3. ^ The building was later purchased by Legg Mason, a large bank. It is known as the "Legg Mason Building" today.
  4. ^ Kornett, Jeff. "USF&G to Change Name, Shift to Holding Company." Baltimore Sun. July 23, 1981.
  5. ^ Ulrich, David; Smallwood, Norm; and Zenger, Jack. Results-Based Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999, p. 156.
  6. ^ Treaster, Joseph. "St. Paul to Pay $2.8 Billion For USF&G." New York Times. January 20, 1998.
  7. ^ McCord, Robert. The Golf Book of Days. New York: Citadel 2002, p. 45.
  8. ^ Hofstede, David. What Were They Thinking: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. New York: Back Stage Books, 2004, p. 170.