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  • Totally_Bummed_Out Totally_Bummed_Out Apr 3, 1999 11:38 AM Flag

    Prunum Systems and Wackos

    Bob Best is not the wacko I was referring to. He
    had a short and altogether uneventful time at UNUM
    (so I've heard), but I think he left on generally
    good terms. Interesting that he is now in charge of
    Customer Service...

    Talking about systems - the
    reason for UNUM's large systems area is that UNUM has
    undergone several big projects. We've had a large and very
    successful Y2K campaign, and have moved on to our "Customer
    Model" project. This new project has many pieces,
    including new data warehousing, rewriting many systems to
    use PCs vs. mainframes, internet systems, and
    replacing the mish-mosh of PCs and the LAN we have with new
    "Standard Technology" equipment. Our actual baseline
    support area is much smaller than you might
    think!

    And, yes, Provident's data center is to consolidate
    with UNUM/Colonial in Columbia. From what info I've
    gathered, they opted to move the smaller system to the
    larger system, and make use of the newer, larger
    facility. Also, I heard that the UNUM team voted for
    Columbia and Provident voted for Tennessee, so IBM was
    involved in picking the location.

    But with all of
    the trouble UNUM has had finding mainframe support
    people, and being short-staffed there already (would you
    agree, Blue Jay?), the next two years could be
    interesting. I think that would be true in either location,
    but it probably would have been worse in Tennessee -
    again, they're moving the smaller system to the larger
    system. Universities and colleges just aren't training
    mainframers like they used to.

    Keep in mind, as well,
    that the Columbia staff is mostly mainframe support.
    UNUM's LAN center is in Portland, Customer Model is in
    Portland, as is the vast majority of mainframe programming
    staff.

    From everything I've heard, systems isn't going to be
    shrinking by much. They've had to lift the hiring freeze
    from time to time to get more systems folks. There's a
    lot of work to be done to put two company's systems
    together.

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    • I've been sitting on the sidelines for awhile
      seeing which way the wind blows and checking out the
      logic being utilized. I'd like to make a few points and
      see the reaction now from a few of the regular
      contributors. Many of these reiterate my comments immediately
      after the merger but are settling in after the initial
      dust storm;

      * Employees and investors alike are
      in for a rough 2+ years as the cultural differences
      begin melding and internal kingdom building becomes
      disturbed. This happens in most companies but is
      particularly true when mergers occur in the insurance
      industry.

      * The reasons for the high level of
      systems employees is that Unum is in the dark ages when
      compared to most technically proficient organizations.
      Think of this....... most sales reps don't have
      laptops. Only antiquated e-mail (no internet access) is
      available! Profs (internal e-mail) was outdated over a
      decade ago. Files must be transfered by mail/overnight.
      While changes are in the works, most companies made
      these changes over 5 years ago. Other technologies may
      be fine but the basics are poor.

      * When Unum
      went out of the Non Can business several years ago and
      also downsized other areas simultaneously through
      Voluntary early retirement packages, Unum was gutted of
      great people. The SAME THING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN! The
      very best, most talented people that made UNUM great
      will opt in droves for the package. Those still too
      early to retire will take the package in an instant if
      other jobs in Portland are available or they are
      willing to relocate. Believe me, resumes are flooding the
      market or are being prepared.

      * Jim Orr may have
      been a good leader, but remember he is the first in
      the modern era not to have been Unum's stated
      objective. Once the "98 Goals" went by the wayside as
      unattainable, this merger made sense so the investment
      community could focus on something else. It also made stock
      options immediately vest. Wonder who that
      helped!?!?

      * This company has CONSTANTLY given the investment
      community surprises. In fact one leading investor commented
      the only time they were surprised was when there
      wan't any. Unum hid poor earnings, historically at
      different times, for ID, pensions, Unum Limited,
      Commercial, and Colonial among others that blind sided the
      pros.

      Okay boys..... any contrarian opinion?

      • 1 Reply to bopper170
      • You say that UNUM has brought surprise for
        investors, but really only for short-timers. Those who have
        made a long term investment in this corporation have
        seen outstanding returns. Those who like to invest on
        the edge, "Extreme Investors" if you will, have not
        had the kind of warning that they are perhaps used
        to. UNUM has been all about stability - for
        investors, for customers, and for employees - and seems to
        encourage long term. In fact, those of us inside the
        company have been surprised with the reactions on the
        Street. Long-term investors and UNUM get along just
        fine.

        Some of your other allegations are true. UNUM is now
        converting to Outlook/Exchange from PROFS. Was PROFS really
        that outdated, though? I seemed to have no problem
        transferring files through PROFS, and those who couldn't had
        the LAN and UNUM Share. And those companies whose
        e-mail systems are being assulted now by Melissa
        look-a-likes should be envious of mainframe communications
        systems - the stability of PROFS was unaffected by
        Melissa, aside from having to handle a truckload of notes
        from spasming Exchange servers everywhere.

        I
        haven't talked to ANYONE who is leaving UNUM voluntarily
        outside of the early retirement offer being made now.
        This is different from the offer made years ago, which
        was a VOLUNTARY SEPARATION PROGRAM and was offered to
        everyone. I'm sure we're going to lose some expertise, but
        it is expertise that would have been gone within the
        next 5 years anyway. Also, management is making the
        decisions about when employees leave the company under the
        retirement program, giving us time to document and share
        some of that knowledge. This is not going to be the
        same thing at all.

        We're definitely in for 2
        years of Merger Madness, but I'm still optimistic about
        the product of this merger. Despite the arguements,
        there are TWO strong companies entering this merger.
        UNUMProvident's structure is leaning toward Provident's more
        efficient structure. But don't forget that Provident needs
        the weight of UNUM to provide some stability -
        something they've been lacking. This may not please the
        Extreme Investors looking for something for nothing, but
        for those of us who are looking at 30+ years before
        retirement, it's going to be our cash cow - no ulcers
        attached.

    • Call UNUM, 207-770-2211, ask for Investor Relations and request a prospectus.

    • analysts are thinking $70 (as of last week) and $100 within two years as I recall.

    • Did you think Textron wanted to renegotiate their
      deal? Chandler and Watjen are brilliant business
      people, nothing they do surprises me. Unum doesn't want
      to break deal, it would cost them too much. Too many
      offices have been given word they are closing. The sales
      and staff people are all looking around, so if they
      call off deal it would hurt both companies.

    • Now that the merger has happened and employee stock options are now executable, how many employees are executing the options and selling right now?

    • on the sell advice. I had a sell order in at 57
      when it was trading in the 56+ range. But, as you can
      see, it did not make it. Oooops! It will be back. Good
      time to buy more -- Maybe @ 32. Expect a rebound by
      next quarter. They both (Orr and Chandler) bit the
      bullet on this one. -- I'm in!! I'll buy more.

    • Congratulations, Longsailor..you just described
      the approach that made the Y2K mess..."we'll worry
      about that later".

      And what is this nonsense
      about "suffocating under UNUM's good vibrations"?
      You've invented some fantasy of your own about what UNUM
      is about and what it's like to work for. UNUM has
      never been about "making people feel good about
      themselves". What sheer poppycock.

    • I'd say 15% of the actuaries left. Investments
      was about 110 people. Finance was targeted at 130
      layoffs. Blue Cross/Blue Shield just up the road was
      supposedly just bought and is hiring masses, I believe
      hundreds of employees of which I would expect most would
      be ex-UNUM. I cashed out and left. People are saying
      there might not be a bonus anymore, and future salaries
      haven't been set in stone yet.

    • Connmen makes a good point several actually
      I
      spent my time at CLAC/UNM and am now a
      stockholder
      Would make these points
      CLAC's Small Commercial
      Business under 100 was about 40% of its business AND the
      most profitable in terms of margin
      Nothing has been
      said about Public Sector another large block of
      profitable business that neither UNUM or PVT sold or made
      money on
      CLAC production is up double digit so far
      this year
      Yes people are leaving some being invited
      out BUT Expenses have been seriously too high and
      Portland's staff and expenses have been in need of major
      pruning for years especially staff
      Harold Chandler
      seems to be a master at that
      Provident was in the
      ditch before Chandler got there
      Paul Revere is
      lucky to be around the biggest problem the new UNM
      still has is what to do with all that insane noncan DI
      business
      It is probably a good sign that a lot of change is
      taking place

    • If I'm not mistaken, the age requirement was 50 and not 55

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