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William W. McGuire

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William McGuire (born 1948)[1] is an American healthcare executive best known for his tenure as chairman and chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group from 1991 until his resignation in 2006, while under investigation for securities fraud, for which he would later settle out of court. He also owns Minnesota United FC, Minnesota's professional soccer team.

Personal life[edit]

McGuire's career at UnitedHealth began in November 1988 when he joined UnitedHealthcare as an executive vice president. He played a significant role in the company's growth, particularly after the acquisition of Peak Health Plan, where he served as president and chief operating officer. His rapid ascent within the company saw him appointed to the board of directors in May 1989, becoming chief operating officer, and later assuming the roles of president, CEO, and chairman of the board by February and May 1991, respectively.


McGuire joined UnitedHealthcare in November 1988 as an executive vice president when the Peak Health Plan, of which he was then president and chief operating officer, was acquired by UnitedHealth Group. In May 1989, he was appointed to the board of directors and became chief operating officer. In November 1989, he became president of the company, in February 1991 he was named chief executive officer and in May of the same year he became chairman of the board of directors, while leaving his position of president of the company.

When McGuire joined UnitedHealth Group, it was an unprofitable regional health maintenance organization with annual revenues around $400 million.[2] When he left, UnitedHealth Group the company had more than $70 billion in annual revenues, more than 50,000 employees, and more than sixty million health plan members.

In 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the conduct of UnitedHealth's management and directors, including McGuire, as did the Internal Revenue Service and prosecutors in the United States Attorneys' office for the Southern District of New York.

The investigations came to light after a series of probing stories in the Wall Street Journal in May 2006, discussing the apparent "backdating" of stock options, in a then-common process called options backdating. Backdating involves manipulating the timing of options grants so they look as though they were made on days when the stock's value was lower. Doing that boosts recipients' windfall when they sell the stock. The backdating was approved by the board of directors, according to the Journal. Several shareholder classes filed lawsuits accusing former UnitedHealth's directors of failing in their fiduciary duty to properly notify shareholders of the scheme.[3][4]

On October 15, 2006, it was announced that McGuire would step down immediately as chairman and director of UnitedHealth. McGuire remained as chief executive officer through December 1, and was succeeded by Stephen Hemsley (then president and chief operating officer, and a member of the board of directors). From 1989 until 2006, McGuire received compensation from UnitedHealth in the form of stock options that eventually became worth around $1.6 billion.[5] However, in the course of the litigations that followed his departure from the company, McGuire was temporarily enjoined from exercising the options. The injunction was later released in late 2008.[6]

On December 6, 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced a settlement, under which McGuire was to repay $468 million as a partial settlement of the backdating prosecution. McGuire was fined $7 million[7] and agreed to not serve as an officer or director of a public company for ten years.[8][9][10][11]

Minnesota United FC[edit]

In November 2012, McGuire purchased Minnesota Stars FC, a league-owned professional soccer team in Minnesota. The team was rebranded as Minnesota United FC in March 2013.[12]


In October 2009, McGuire and his wife Nadine donated a rare butterfly collection valued at $41 MM to the University of Florida.[13]

In 2007, the McGuires established the McGuire Scholar Program at the University of Minnesota, which provides scholarships to talented students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.[14] In 2004, the McGuires made a $10 MM gift to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[15]

In 2004, the McGuires made a $7.5 MM gift to Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The college renamed its life sciences building in their honor.[16] In 2003, they made a $10 MM gift to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[17]

In December 2000, the McGuires made a $4.2 MM gift to the University of Florida to construct and establish the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Research and the McGuire Center for Insect Conservation.[18]


  1. ^ "Answers - The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  2. ^ "History of United HealthCare Corporation – FundingUniverse". fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  3. ^ "A Board With Its Back To The Wall: UnitedHealth directors aren't ready to oust embattled CEO McGuire. Here's why", Business Week, July 10, 2006
  4. ^ Loren Steffy, "How William McGuire earned that fat paycheck", Houston Chronicle newspaper, November 7, 2006
  5. ^ UnitedHealth Panel May Face Scrutiny Joshua Freed, AP Business Writer, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, April 23, 2006
  6. ^ "Judge OKs $900M-plus UnitedHealth settlement". Fox News. October 13, 2008.
  7. ^ Former Chief Will Forfeit $418 Million| By ERIC DASH| 7 December 2007
  8. ^ Securities and Exchange Commission v. William W. McGuire, M.D., Civil Action No. 07-CV-4779-JMR/FLN (D. Minn. 2007) U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION Litigation Release No. 20387 / December 6, 2007
  9. ^ Former UnitedHealth Group CEO/Chairman Settles Stock Options Backdating Case for $468 Million SEC Press release 2007-255
  10. ^ Dr. William McGuire Settles with the SEC and the UnitedHealth Group Special Litigation Committee on Stock Options Matter Latham and Watkins, LLP, Press release, December 6, 2007
  11. ^ "Press Release: SEC Files Settled Enforcement Actions Against UnitedHealth Group and Former General Counsel in Stock Options Backdating Case (Dec. 22, 2008)". sec.gov. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  12. ^ Sam Stejskal (March 27, 2015). "From brink of extinction to MLS, Dr. Bill McGuire leads Minnesota United FC to new heights". Major League Soccer.
  13. ^ Crann, Tom (October 13, 2009). "Bill McGuire donates $41M worth of butterflies to Fla. university". Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  14. ^ nels2371 (May 18, 2016). "News & Events". Retrieved January 4, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "Walker Art Center's successful capital campaign has raised gifts" (PDF). walkerart.org. Retrieved October 1, 2023.
  16. ^ "Building a Future for Science" (PDF). Amherst College Report of Gifts, 2003–2004. Amherst College. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  17. ^ Frank Jossi (August 28, 2003). "Capital campaigns gain momentum". St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved October 1, 2023.
  18. ^ Mankin, Richard. "McGuire Centers for Lepidoptera Research and Insect Conservation". Retrieved January 4, 2017.

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