Beautifully engraved certificate from the NLT Corporation
issued no later than 1982. This historic document was printed by the Security-Columbian Banknote Company and has a block border with a vignette of an allegorical woman sitting in front of a city scape. This item has the printed signatures of the company’s chairman and secretary and is
over 24 years old.
In 1978 Great Southern Life was purchased by NLT Corporation of Nashville, Tennessee. Great Southern Life went on to become NLT's principal company producing ordinary life insurance. In 1982, American General purchased NLT Corporation and Great Southern Life became part of the American General organization.
American General: A Portrait of Leadership The bright future of American General began during a stormy day in 1926, when insurance businessman Gus S. Wortham and long-time friend and attorney, Judge James A. Elkins, braved a torrential storm on a Southern Pacific train from Houston to Austin. At the state capitol, they filed a charter for the company that today is one of the nation's leading providers of retirement services, life insurance, and consumer loans.
The Early Years
Growth through Acquisition
The 1980s: An Extraordinary Decade
Working for 12 Million Americans
Building Shareholder Value
American General History
The Early Years
Building the Foundation
The 1920s were a time of phenomenal growth for Houston, and by 1930, the city had doubled in size. Among the visionaries shaping the city was Gus Wortham.
After fighting for the passage of a 1925 landmark legal decision that paved the way for insurance companies to write both property and casualty insurance, Wortham turned his attention to the dream of establishing just such a company.
In 1926, Wortham found the investors he needed to realize his dream among three of his closest colleagues. Each was willing to invest $75,000 in the new venture: J.W. Link, Sr., a partner in the brokerage firm of Link-Ford; Judge Elkins; and Jesse H. Jones, who quickly said, "Deal me in." By also contributing $75,000, Wortham had the $300,000 necessary to launch the new enterprise.
The Baby is Born
With financing in hand, Wortham set about naming the new company. Early suggestions - Lone Star, Trinity, and Magnolia Insurance Company - sounded too regional, and did not include the words general insurance to indicate the company would write both property and casualty insurance. Carle Aderman, a friend and associate, happened by Wortham's office one day with the answer. He took off his hat, pointed to the label's insignia of George Washington, and said, "Here's a general for you, Mr. Wortham, the first American general." The search for a name - and a symbol - was over.
On May 7, 1926, Wortham and Judge Elkins filed a charter for the new company. The next day, a small group of Wortham's associates in Houston tore open a yellow envelope delivered by a Western Union messenger. Signed by Judge Elkins, four words told the story: "The baby is born."
Within three years, American General declared its first dividend, establishing a tradition unbroken to this day. By 1939, the company was prepared to reach out for more business opportunities. Under Wortham, the company launched its first wholly owned subsidiary, American General Investment Corporation, which offered financing for real estate activities and automobiles.
Growth Through Acquisition
A Match Made in Heaven
Long before most of his contemporaries, Wortham realized that if you were to succeed in the insurance business, you had but two choices: "You either acquire ... or be acquired." He put this philosophy to the test in 1945 with the acquisition of Seaboard Life Insurance Company, described by Wortham as "a match made in heaven."
Seaboard was similar in size, age, and reputation to American General. The merger made the American General Life Insurance Company the only company in the South to underwrite fire, life, automobile, and casualty insurance. It also set the precedent for a strategy to achieve growth through acquisition - a strategy that continues to fuel the company's growth today.
American General continued pursuing acquisitions throughout the 1950s. In 1953, Wortham hired veteran life insurance salesman and well known industry leader, Benjamin N. "Woody" Woodson, to spearhead the pursuit of opportunities outside Texas. Woodson's first purchase for American General, a small life insurance company in Omaha, marked the company's first expansion outside Texas.
Entering National Markets
Into the 1960s, acquisitions followed like clockwork. In 1964, Woodson engineered the acquisition of the Maryland Casualty Company. With this single acquisition, American General entered national markets and doubled in size, becoming a major insurance holding company with a number of regionally based life and health insurance companies and a major casualty insurer.
In 1966, American General entered the New York life insurance market with the purchase of Patriot Life Insurance Company in New York City. Patriot Life was moved to Syracuse, New York in 1970, and in 1973, was renamed American General Life Insurance Company of New York.
One year later, American General purchased a controlling interest in the Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC). This marked American General's move into the retirement plans and tax-deferred annuity market. Within 10 years of the purchase, American General acquired all of VALIC's remaining outstanding stock, making the company a wholly owned subsidiary of American General.
With the acquisition of Life and Casualty Insurance Company of Nashville, Tennessee in 1968, American General reached a significant milestone: $1 billion in total assets. That same year, American General began trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and also made one of its most significant investments: the acquisition of a one-third interest in California-Western States Life Insurance Company. The investment proved pivotal to the company's future because it introduced Wortham and Woodson to the leadership capabilities of Harold S. Hook.
A New Beginning
Within five years, Hook had guided Cal-West through a dramatic turnaround. By 1973, American General owned a controlling interest in Cal-West.
In 1972, Wortham retired, and Woodson became chairman and CEO. In 1975, American General's board of directors invited Hook to join the company as president, and in 1978 Hook succeeded Woodson as the company's third chairman and CEO.
The 1980s: An Extraordinary Decade
The Quantum Leap
To facilitate more rapid growth, American General was changed from a property-liability insurance company into a general business corporation in 1980 and renamed American General Corporation.
During a two-year period from February 1982 to January 1984, acquisitions involving a score of companies tripled American General's size - resulting in the highly celebrated "quantum leap."
Initiating this rapid growth was the 1982 acquisition of CrediThrift Financial, Inc. for $150 million, which opened the door for American General's entry into the consumer finance business. During the same year, the $1.5 billion purchase of The National Life and Accident Insurance Company nearly doubled the company's size.
The company's momentum didn't stop there. In 1984, American General purchased the insurance operations of Gulf United for $1.2 billion. Coupled with the acquisition of NLT, this purchase moved American General into the ranks of the nation's largest life insurance organizations.
A Sharpened Focus
The 1980s also heralded a period of streamlining, consolidations, and divestitures. In the company's most significant divestiture during the decade, it sold Maryland Casualty and its operating subsidiaries in 1989, marking the company's departure from the property-liability insurance business.
During the same year, the company's group life and health operations also were sold, transforming American General into a financial services organization that was sharply focused on three business divisions: retirement services, life insurance, and consumer finance.
A Successful Strategy
By the end of the decade, American General's strategic moves included nine acquisitions, 16 divestitures, and 10 consolidations. Assets grew dramatically, from $5 billion in 1980 to $32 billion by the decade's end. As the company entered the 1990s, two-thirds of its operating earnings were generated from businesses that were not a part of American General as it entered the 1980s.
Working for 12 Million Americans
Charting a Steady Course
Economic and regulatory changes ... shifting demographics ... heightened competition ... and industry consolidation continue to alter the financial services landscape. And American General continues to respond decisively and take full advantage of the opportunities presented.
American General renewed its corporate development activities in 1994 with the $274 million acquisition of 40 percent of the outstanding shares of common stock of Western National Corporation. Western National is the nation's leading provider of retirement annuities sold through financial institutions.
American General's 40 percent stake in Western National was followed quickly with the completion of the $1.2 billion purchase of The Franklin Life Insurance Company. Founded in 1884, The Franklin is a leading provider of individual life insurance to middle-income families throughout the United States.
In 1995, American General completed $362 million acquisition of the Independent Insurance Group. Like The Franklin, the acquisition of Independent Life represented an excellent geographic and strategic fit with American General.
A Vision of Growth
One year later, in 1996, American General's Board of Directors named President Robert M. Devlin as CEO in accordance with the company's succession plan for retiring Chairman and CEO Harold Hook.
The following year, Devlin became the fourth chairman and CEO in the company's 72-year history. American General's tradition of growth bridges past and future leadership.
Devlin, who joined American General in 1977, had demonstrated the strategic vision and leadership qualities necessary to build upon American General's record of success. He served in a broad range of senior management positions in the parent company and in the operating companies prior to being elected vice chairman and director of American General Corporation in 1993, and president in 1995.
Under Devlin's leadership, American General began a new era of growth and expanded opportunity. In 1997, American General further strengthened its reputation as a successful acquirer and consolidator of financial services companies with the completion of the $665 million acquisition of Home Beneficial Corporation of Richmond, Virginia.
In February 1997, the company announced the largest transaction in American General's history - the $1.8 billion merger of New York-based USLIFE Corporation. USLIFE operates nationwide through three ordinary life insurance companies, a credit insurance group, and six other financial services and support companies. The transaction represents an outstanding strategic fit for American General and offers a unique opportunity to combine two of the nation's premier providers of life insurance and financial services.
That same year, American General also announced the acquisition of the remaining 54% of Western National's common stock for $1.2 billion. The announcement marked the most active year of growth through acquisition in the company's history. All told, completed and announced acquisitions totaled $3.7 billion. On February 25, 1998, American General completed the acquisition of Western National, becoming the nation's third-largest writer of individual annuities.
With this active period of growth, American General has emerged as a company with distinct competitive strengths and leadership positions in each of its chosen markets - retirement services, life insurance, and consumer finance.
This activity reaffirms the vision of growth and performance that American General has actively pursued for more than seven decades.
Building Shareholder Value
A New Chapter for the Next Century
American General's dual strategy of internal growth and growth through acquisition has served it well over the years. Financial strength, consistent performance over the long term, and a proven organizational structure will enable the company to grow and prosper into the 21st century. These characteristics are a source of comfort and security to American General's 12 million customers.
Over the past 20 years, American General has built an enviable record in building shareholder value, outperforming the S&P 500 Index with an annual total return to shareholders of 20 percent. American General's commitment to building shareholder value also is reflected in its dividend record. Since its first dividend in 1929, the company has paid quarterly dividends continuously for 70 years, and has increased dividends in each of the last 24 years, representing a compound annual growth rate of over 12%.
As the financial services industry continues to consolidate, opportunities abound. American General's clear vision and platform for growth have positioned the company to take advantage of these opportunities. In 1998, American General surpassed two significant milestones that demonstrate the strength, size, and scale of the organization: $100 billion in assets and $1 billion in operating earnings.
In that same year, the company also introduced a new corporate marketing name -- American General Financial Group -- to more clearly position the company in its industry and better establish its brand identity. During the first game of the 1998 World Series, American General launched its first-ever national television advertising campaign. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, this campaign is designed to support the company's branding initiative and better communicate how American General helps customers "Live the Lives They've Imagined."
Building A Great Company
In 1999, American General clearly defined and communicated to its employees the company's purpose, values, and goal as the first step in building an enduring organization capable of achieving sustained, outstanding performance. Simply stated, American General's purpose is to help people meet the lifetime financial needs. The corporate values are: People Make the Difference ... Straightforward Communication ... Commitment to Integrity ... Energy and Drive to Succeed.
Guided by these values, American General is evaluating every strategy, policy, and practice to transform the company from good to great.
American General's goal is to be a world leader in financial services -- the premier provider of lifetime financial solutions in our chosen markets. As American General pursues this goal with unyielding dedication to its purpose and values, the company will strive to produce consistently superior financial returns for its shareholders.
Today, American General is the nation's largest publicly held life insurance organization with market-leading positions in each of its three businesses -- retirement services, life insurance, and consumer finance. With a clear goal, sound strategies, and an unwavering commitment to its purpose and values, American General will continue to benefit from opportunities presented in the rapidly evolving financial services marketplace. This information was provided by American General.