US insurer Safeco has announced that Christine Mead, the company's chief financial officer and president of technology, service and finance, will retire with effect from 31 December 2005.

Mead joined the Fortune 500-listed Safeco in January 2002 as senior vice president and CFO. She recently notified the company of her intention to retire after having previously declined to be considered as a candidate for the chief executive position.

Upon her retirement, Mead plans to circle the globe on a bicycle, traveling from London, England to Sydney, Australia.

I have an opportunity of a lifetime to pursue my dream to experience the world in a unique way, she said. Between now and then, I will do all I can to help with the transition to a new CEO and to support the company’s next chief financial officer.

A search for a replacement CFO is under way, and an announcement is expected following the selection of a new chief executive by Safeco’s board.

Chris delivered on the initiatives she tackled with remarkable insight and diligence, said Safeco chairman and CEO Mike McGavick. We look forward to her continued presence and contributions through the end of this year.