Breakingviews

AIG makes late push toward mediocrity

January 26, 2016

The mega-insurer unveiled plans to sell businesses, slash costs and return $25 bln to shareholders. That’d be a lot for most companies under siege from an activist like Carl Icahn. It’ll only get AIG to a subpar return on equity of 9 pct. This breakup story has further to go.

MetLife spinoff plan hedges SIFI and activist risk

January 13, 2016

The $50 bln insurer may offload its U.S. retail arm. Boss Steven Kandarian is fighting watchdogs over the systemic label, but carving out the parts most vulnerable to capital hikes lessens the impact of losing. And Carl Icahn’s agitation at AIG shows insurers need to stay alert.

Dismal AIG earnings add fuel to Carl Icahn’s ire

November 3, 2015

The activist wants the insurer to break up and cut costs. AIG boss Peter Hancock is pledging to do the latter. But a $231 mln Q3 loss emphasizes just how much work the company still has to do to get shareholders on board. A carve-up may be painful, but it’s not off the table yet.

AIG’s post-crisis babying days are over

October 28, 2015

Carl Icahn has delivered the $80 bln insurer a rude awakening. The pushy investor isn’t satisfied with CEO Peter Hancock’s steps to boost performance and wants the company to split and shed its systemic tag. Say goodbye to any lingering sympathy for AIG’s near-death experience.

MetLife CEO should revel in his anonymity

July 29, 2014

That almost no one knows ol’ so-and-so is good for shareholders. How he handles the mega-insurer’s likely designation as a systemic threat could change that. A Jamie Dimon-style fight would be foolish. Better to speak softly and keep the name Steve Kandarian out of headlines.

Taxpayers come second to company in AIG plan

September 30, 2010

American International Group is throwing off its shackles. But taxpayers will be locked in for a while yet. The company’s deal with the government over its $100 billion of bailout funds makes the insurer’s finances simpler and healthier. That’s potentially good for shareholders. But initially the plan largely just rearranges the government’s interests. It is hard to see how it gets taxpayers cash back any sooner, while increasing their risk.

Time to pull the plug on NY’s Hank Greenberg suit

April 11, 2013

The fraud case against the ex-AIG boss has already outlasted two of the state’s attorneys general. After losing a ruling Wednesday, a third AG should fold. His office is plenty busy pursuing financial-crisis cases and other scams. It doesn’t need this eight-year-old distraction.

Uncle Sam’s AIG exit likely to be drawn out

September 28, 2010

There's no quick way for the U.S. government to exit American International Group. Converting $49 billion of preferred stock to common shares and selling them would, like the government's exit from Citigroup, take a while.

AIA’s new chief could unlock two deals

July 19, 2010

In giving its Asia chief executive the chop, American International Group may have unlocked two deals. First, the flotation of its AIA division in Hong Kong, which should now go ahead after a false start. Second, an eventual merger between AIA and the Asian portion of its big rival -- and recent failed suitor -- the UK's Prudential.

Lesson to Pru: AIG isn’t a normal corporation

June 1, 2010

The wrangling over AIG's Asian insurance unit AIA clarifies what Prudential's board should have known all along: AIG is beholden to the U.S. taxpayer. While accepting a lower price might have been a rational business decision, it also would have further opened AIG to charges of shortchanging its owners -- this time to help Pru.