For the second consecutive year, Northwestern Mutual has ranked at the top of Fortune's prestigious list of the world's most admired companies. Ranking best in its category, life and health insurance, Northwestern Mutual is featured in the magazine's October 2 edition as the industry leader worldwide.

"This recognition clearly highlights our company's commitment to policyowners, and the quality and value of our products," says James D. Ericson, chairman and chief executive officer. "It is also a tribute to our financial representatives and the expertise they bring to their clients."

Fortune commissioned the Hay Group consulting firm to survey the experts: the business executives who run companies and the analysts who study those companies. A total of 27 industries were evaluated worldwide. Each company was graded according to nine attributes: quality of management; quality of products and services; innovativeness; long-term investment value; financial soundness; ability to attract, develop, and retain talent; community responsibility; use of corporate assets; and global business acumen.

Fortune has also ranked Northwestern Mutual as America's most admired company in its industry 17 times in as many years.

Northwestern Mutual, the nation's leading provider of individual life insurance, has always received the highest possible ratings for financial strength from Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch (formerly Duff & Phelps) and A. M. Best. Besides life insurance, the Company and its subsidiaries are also providers of annuities, mutual funds, long-term care insurance and disability income insurance. The Company is affiliated with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and its 7,500 Financial Representatives who provide expert guidance on insurance, investment products and services, retirement and estate planning, education funding and employee benefits.

Among Northwestern Mutual's majority-owned subsidiaries are the Frank Russell Company, the investment management and advisory firm; Robert W. Baird and Co. Incorporated, the securities brokerage firm; and beginning in January, 2001, the Northwestern Mutual Trust Company which will offer a full range of personal trust products and services, as well as investment management services. Further information on Northwestern Mutual can be found at: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/ .

SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual

Contact: Deanna Tillisch, 414-665-2705, or Jean Towell, 414-665-5167,
both of Northwestern Mutual

Website: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/