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Change at the top of Liberty Mutual as CEO David Long is set to retire

No. 2 Tim Sweeney — also a longtime exec at the insurer — will take the top job at year’s end.

Liberty Mutual CEO David Long is retiring at the end of the year.Photo courtesy of Liberty Mutual

After leading one of the country’s biggest property insurers for more than a decade, Liberty Mutual chief executive David Long plans to step down at the end of the year, to be succeeded by his top lieutenant.

The Boston-based insurance giant announced on Thursday that Timothy Sweeney, 57, will be promoted from president to chief executive in January. Long, 61, will stay on for an unspecified time as executive chairman of Liberty Mutual’s board of directors.

A UK native who has been with the company for nearly four decades, Long became CEO in 2011 and has presided over a period of steady growth for Liberty Mutual. Revenue has grown 39 percent during his tenure as chief executive, to $48 billion last year, and the company is now the sixth-largest property-and-casualty insurer in the world. Liberty Mutual employs 47,000 people across 29 countries, up from about 45,000 a decade ago. Acquisitions under Long’s watch included the recently completed $1 billion purchase of State Auto Group.

Liberty Mutual ranks 78th on the Fortune 100, one of five Boston-area companies on that list (though one — Raytheon — is about to move its corporate headquarters to northern Virginia).

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Among accolades offered by the company: The Liberty Mutual Foundation quadrupled charitable giving under Long’s leadership as CEO to $50 million a year, and he created the Liberty Torchbearers program to encourage employee volunteerism, supporting more than 12,000 nonprofits over the years. Left unsaid in the company’s hagiography: Liberty Mutual has developed a ubiquitous advertising presence, most notably with the ‘70s-style cop show odd-duck pairing of LiMu the emu and human counterpart Doug. Long is also a board member of Eversource Energy, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Massachusetts General Hospital, and his alma mater, Hartwick College.

“The company has experienced significant change, challenges and transformation over the years, and I’m fortunate to be part of it all,” Long said in a statement. “Tim is an outstanding leader who will continue to drive the organization forward.”

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Like Long, Sweeney is a longtime Liberty Mutual employee who has worked his way up the ranks. He was named president in 2021, and will be the company’s 10th chief executive in its 110-year history. Sweeney, who grew up in Lowell, holds an MBA and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard.

The company has not disclosed how much of a bump in pay Sweeney will get for his new job as CEO. Long’s total compensation package was reported by the company to be $12.2 million in 2021, while Sweeney’s was $6.7 million.


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him @jonchesto.