John Hart, CEO of La Jolla-based PICO Holdings Inc., was fired Wednesday, the company said in a statement.
Hart was also fired as CEO of Vidler Water Co., a PICO subsidiary with water and infrastructure rights in the Southwest.
“The decision to terminate Mr. Hart was in the best interest of the company and its shareholders,” said Raymond Marino, chairman of PICO’s board of directors.
Maxim C. W. Webb, PICO’s chief financial officer and treasurer since 2001, was named Hart’s replacement.
PICO said John T. Perri, the company’s vice president and chief accounting officer since 2010, has taken over as CFO and treasurer.
The top spot at Vidler went to Dorothy Timian-Palmer, who joined Vidler in December 1997 as chief operating officer and became president in April 2006.
Hart gets severance benefits as spelled out in his employment agreement, which was amended this March, the company said.
He remains a member of the boards of directors of PICO and of land portfolio and homebuilding company UCP Inc., also a PICO subsidiary.
“The independent directors of PICO are currently evaluating a range of options with respect to the removal of Mr. Hart from these director roles as soon as possible,” PICO said in the statement.
The company also said it had ended an investigation into Hart and board member Ken Slepicka’s interests in Synthonics Inc., which Slepicka runs, saying that PICO’s audit committee had received “all material information” before the company invested in Synthonics in 2010 and that Hart was not required to disclose in PICO’s SEC filings his ownership stake in the company, which was less than 1 percent of Synthonics’ outstanding equity.