ILFC bidders may get TARP relief

March 2, 2009

AIGPotential buyers of a large AIG business could be the latest to get some “relief” under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

In approving a revised AIG rescue package, the government has also agreed to give potential bidders of the insurer’s assets at least a bit of what some of them have been clamouring for – access to capital.

AIG has received significant interest from buyers for its aircraft leasing unit, International Lease Finance Corp, Chief Restructuring Officer Paula Reynolds said.

But despite the interest, the process is taking time as bidders look for the funds to pull off a deal. The company has $33 billion of debt, some of which starts to mature in October. It had a book value of about $7.5 billion as of Sept. 30.

Before AIG tanked in September, ILFC had it good, with access to the insurer’s blue-chip credit ratings. Now, the loss of those ratings along with the upheaval in capital markets would force any bidders for the unit to think carefully not only about how to finance the acquisition but also how to run it on an ongoing basis, not an easy task as the financial crisis persists.

But to potential bidders’ relief, AIG will consider using some of its new $30 billion equity commitment from TARP to help with ILFC debt that comes due this year, if – as a source with direct knowledge of the matter pointed out – that becomes an impediment to the unit’s sale.

(Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)

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