AIG’s revolving CEO door

The Wall Street Journal reports AIG Chief Executive Robert Benmosche threatened to walk last week. Chafing after the recent compensation review by pay czar Ken Feinberg, Benmosche reportedly told AIG directors he was “done,” but the board talked him down and he agreed to think it over.

Benmosche took over as the insurer’s chief executive in August, becoming the fourth person to hold the post in about a year. On his watch, the recipient of up to $180 billion of federal aid, including more than $80 billion in loans, posted its second straight quarterly profit last week.

A recovery in the value of AIG’s investments has helped improve the bottom line at the 80 percent state-owned insurer, and it may be that the next CEO, if Benmosche catches the revolving door on the fly, will be able to justify better pay on improving performance. AIG said at the end of October it was no longer looking to sell two Japanese units, AIG Edison Life Insurance and AIG Star Life insurance, because it now believes they will help improve its corporate value.

There is still the matter of all that money owed to the U.S. government. Consider it a long-term objective for any AIG CEO.

Lehman and its aftermath, by the numbers


With apologies to Harper’s Index, some collected statistics on the collapse of Lehman and the roller-coaster year that followed.

Add your own significant digits in the comments section.


Number of siblings who made up the original Lehman Brothers, founded as a dry-goods store in 1844: 3

Age of Bavarian immigrant Henry Lehman when he founded the business: 23

Percentage difference between the DNA of former Lehman CEO Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld and an actual gorilla:

No disrespect intended

Robert Benmosche, the new CEO of AIG, tells us he regrets tough comments he made about New York’s attorney general, explaining that he was trying to bolster a demoralized AIG work force. “You can characterize me as a goon or you can characterize me as somebody who is attempting to deal with a complex issue of a very demoralized employee force and said those things to them in confidence to reassure them that they no longer have to be afraid that they are going to be attacked again,” Benmosche told Adam Tanner in an interview.

During a closed-door staff meeting in Houston, Texas, last month, Benmosche said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo “doesn’t deserve to be in government” and had acted like a “criminal.” Cuomo’s office declined to comment on the matter.

Given the poisoned chalice the stewardship of AIG has been for his predecessors, Benmosche may be taking the only tack available. The former CEO of MetLife and native New Yorker, who prides himself on a reputation for toughness, did try to couch his comments somewhat, saying from his Croatian villa that “one should not assume that my aggressiveness is disrespect.”