Kemper Corporation (formerly known as Unitrin) is one of America's major insurance and consumer finance providers. The group of companies specializes in property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance products for individuals, families, and small businesses.
Unitrin, Inc. was founded in April 1990 when it was spun off from Henry Singleton's conglomerate Teledyne. Singleton hoped that the spin-off of Unitrin would duplicate the successful results of the Argo Group, originally a worker's compensation insurance provider, spun off in 1986. Argonaut's original $20 per share stock appreciated 240 percent by 1990.
Singleton remained Chairman of Unitrin after it was spun off to shareholders at $31.25 per share, trading on NASDAQ. Unitrin divided its business into three major categories: life and health insurance; property and casualty insurance; and consumer finance, which covered a variety of services including automobile and industrial loans.
During the second part of 1994, Unitrin was targeted for a hostile takeover because of its increasing success. American General Corp., an insurance carrier headquartered in Houston, sent a $2.6 billion takeover bid. On June 26, Unitrin rejected the $50.38 per share offer and adopted a poison pill defense by initiating a stock buyback plan of ten million shares or 19% of its stock. American General then took Unitrin to court. A Delaware Chancery Court judge agreed and issued a restraining order against Unitrin's proposed stock buyback until September 27, 1994. Unitrin continued to resist the merger offer, and, on December 13, 1994, the Delaware Supreme Court overturned the lower court's injunction, allowing Unitrin to continue buying back its stock. (For details see Unitrin, Inc. v. American General Corp.) As 1994 ended, Unitrin's total revenues rose slightly to $1.37 billion, just over the previous year's $1.36 billion. However, Unitrin's net income rose from $95 million in 1993 to a shocking $148 million for 1994 fiscal year. As Unitrin entered its fifth year as an independent company, it continued buying back its stock to keep American General and, possibly, other suitors at bay. By the end of 1995, Unitrin had bought back 13.5 million shares at a cost of $661 million. Unitrin's poison pill defense worked: American General's takeover bid expired on February 7, 1995 and was not renewed.
Eventually, Unitrin took the Kemper Corporation name. Starting August 25, 2011, Unitrin officially began operations as Kemper Corporation, with trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the KMPR ticker symbol.