Insurer WellPoint fires former interim CEO

FILE- This July 17, 2012, file photo, shows the corporate headquarters of WellPoint in Indianapolis. WellPoint Inc. reports quarterly financial results on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — WellPoint Inc. has fired General Counsel John Cannon, who led the nation’s second-largest health insurer for a few months after former CEO Angela Braly stepped down in 2012.

The Indianapolis company gave no reason for the dismissal in a brief, Friday morning statement. WellPoint said Cannon, who also serves as an executive vice president and chief public affairs officer, will remain employed until March 3 to help with the transition of his duties.

Cannon’s assistant referred a request for comment to WellPoint’s communications department.

Braly resigned in August 2012 as investors became frustrated with disappointing results from the insurer, which made the rare move of lowering its annual earnings forecast a month before she left. Cannon replaced her until last March, when new CEO Joseph Swedish took over.

The company has said Cannon, a former executive with another insurer, Cigna Corp., had no interest in becoming Braly’s permanent replacement. He has served as executive vice president and general counsel since December 2007.

Cannon, 59, is entitled to a $4.2 million cash severance, according to a proxy statement filed by WellPoint last spring. But the filing also notes that the amount listed is an estimate, and the actual total could vary.

Aside from the CEO changes, WellPoint also has undergone other leadership turnover in the past year. Three long-standing members of its board of directors resigned last year for personal reasons. The company has since filled those slots.

WellPoint shares climbed 32 cents to $88.03 at the start of trading Friday, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index also climbed slightly.

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