DealZone

Clock ticks as AIG ponders AIA’s prospects

June 4, 2010

American International Group CEO Robert Benmosche asked the insurer’s board for time to explore options besides a public offering for its Asian life unit after a $35.5 billion deal to sell it to Prudential fell apart, a source familiar with the matter tells Paritosh Bansal.

Benmosche wanted to explore other options for American International Assurance, including selling parts of the business, after the directors on Monday voted down a sale to Prudential on revised terms, the source said. The British insurer had asked AIG to cut the price to $30.4 billion.

Putting aside for the moment what AIA may actually be worth, AIG’s board and even Uncle Sam can possibly be forgiven for not wanting to appear too desperate to sell. They certainly would have had a harder time setting prices for other assets if Pru was able to knock a sixth off the price just for asking.

Plus, there appears to be surprisingly little appetite in Washington for holding AIG’s feet to the fire to get back the tens of billions of dollars in bailout support that made the U.S. government AIG’s most dominant shareholder and creditor.

A date has yet to be set for the next board meeting on the issue of what to do with AIA, but with congressional elections in November, the longer they wait, the bigger the risk that hawkish politicians begin to circle.

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