Travelers buys back its red umbrella

The property casualty insurer says it will acquire its trademark red umbrella from Citigroup, drop St. Paul from name.

By Keisha Lamothe, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Insurer St. Paul Travelers will re-acquire it's trademark red umbrella logo from Citigroup and change its name to Travelers Cos., the insurer said Tuesday.

The move comes after Citigroup (up $0.25 to $53.68, Charts) decided it would discard the logo which it acquired after it merged with St. Paul Travelers in 1998 and change its name to "Citi".

St. Paul Travelers (up $0.18 to $52.80, Charts), a leading provider of property casualty insurance, began using the umbrella symbol in 1870 as the Travelers Insurance Co.

Citigroup's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at the time, Sanford "Sandy" Weill, said he sought "balance" between Citicorp and his Travelers Group when the companies merged to form Citigroup, under the red umbrella logo.

In 2002, Citigroup spun off Travelers Property Casualty Corp. in a $5 billion IPO. A year later, Travelers Property merged with St. Paul Cos. Inc. to create The St. Paul Travelers Cos., based in St. Paul, Minn.

St. Paul Travelers bought Citigroup's Travelers insurance unit for about $16 billion in 2004 but did not acquire the logo.

But through all the mergers and spin offs the public still identified the red umbrella logo with St. Paul Travelers.

"Our research continued to show that the trademark red umbrella was more connected with insurance, specifically St. Paul Travelers," Citigroup's Chief Executive Charles Prince said in a statement. "We are pleased to have entered into this agreement."

"We recognize that [the umbrella] was creating confusion," St. Paul Travelers' Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay Fishman said in during a conference call. "The recognition of the umbrella to the Travelers name was really quite remarkable."

St. Paul Travelers will acquire the logo for an undisclosed amount and the company expects the sale to close in March, pending antitrust approval.

"The symbol is positioning us to be more powerful in the market place than we are today and agents are very enthusiastic we have it back," Chief Operating Officer Brian MacLean said during a conference call.

"[People] remember the old tag line 'You're better off under the umbrella'. The name has resonated with people for a long time," Fishman said.

St. Paul Travelers will operate under its current name without the use of the umbrella symbol until the completion of the transaction. The insurer's new name, Travelers Cos. will be listed under the ticker symbol "TRV" on the New York Stock Exchange.

Citigroup will do business under Citi, but its legal name will remain Citigroup Inc.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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