Dribs and drabs from AIG’s fire sale

August 12, 2009

Sometimes it’s easy to sniff at $70 million, particularly when you have government loans of $80 billion to repay (while the total size of the AIG bailout was closer to $180 billion, much of that consists of toxic mortgage assets that are now owned by U.S. taxpayer). So news that AIG has agreed to sell its Hong Kong consumer finance and India-based IT services units for that amount may seem to be a paltry offer for discussion, even in the blogosphere.

It’s not as if the well is dry on the M&A front. Microsoft and Nokia are set to announce a tie-up of some sort – assumed to have to do with office apps on Nokia phones – and UBS is inking a deal to get it out of the tax-haven doghouse with U.S. authorities.

But spare a thought for poor AIG nonetheless. AIG Financial Products said this week it had completed the sale of its energy and infrastructure investment assets for net proceeds of about $1.9 billion – better than a 1 percent chunk of its total bill to U.S. taxpayers, but the division blamed for so much still has mountains of assets to unload. And it has stepped up plans to list its Asian insurance unit, American International Assurance, in Hong Kong after failing to find a buyer for a large stake in it earlier this year.

Nobody said dismantling Hank Greenberg’s empire would be easy or even a compelling thing to watch. But at its current rate of divestment, the only thing more mind-boggling than the amount of money it owes to taxpayers is the potential time it might take to raise that kind of money.

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see