AIG

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American International Group, Inc. (AIG) (NYSE: AIG) is an American insurance corporation. Its corporate headquarters are located in the American International Building in New York City. The British headquarters office is on Fenchurch Street in London, continental Europe operations are based in La Défense, Paris, and its Asian headquarters office is in Hong Kong. According to the 2008 Forbes Global 2000 list, AIG was once the 18th-largest public company in the world. It was listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average from April 8, 2004 to September 22, 2008.

AIG suffered from a liquidity crisis when its credit ratings were downgraded below “AA” levels in September 2008. The United States Federal Reserve Bank on September 16, 2008 created an $85 billion credit facility to enable the company to meet increased collateral obligations consequent to the credit rating downgrade, in exchange for the issuance of a stock warrant to the Federal Reserve Bank for 79.9% of the equity of AIG. The Federal Reserve Bank and the United States Treasury by May 2009 had increased the potential financial support to AIG, with the support of an investment of as much as $70 billion, a $60 billion credit line and $52.5 billion to buy mortgage-based assets owned or guaranteed by AIG, increasing the total amount available to as much as $182.5 billion. AIG subsequently sold a number of its subsidiaries and other assets to pay down loans received, and continues to seek buyers of its assets.

AIG history dates back to 1919, when Cornelius Vander Starr established an insurance agency in Shanghai, China. Starr was the first Westerner in Shanghai to sell insurance to the Chinese, which he continued to do until AIG left China in early 1949—as Mao Zedong led the advance of the Communist People’s Liberation Army on Shanghai.Starr then moved the company headquarters to its current home in New York City.The company went on to expand, often through subsidiaries, into other markets, including other parts of Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.

In 1962, Starr gave management of the company’s lagging U.S. holdings to Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, who shifted its focus from personal insurance to high-margin corporate coverage. Greenberg focused on selling insurance through independent brokers rather than agents to eliminate agent salaries. Using brokers, AIG could price insurance according to its potential return even if it suffered decreased sales of certain products for great lengths of time with very little extra expense. In 1968, Starr named Greenberg his successor. The company went public in 1969.

Beginning in 2005, AIG became embroiled in a series of fraud investigations conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Justice Department, and New York State Attorney General’s Office. Greenberg was ousted amid an accounting scandal in February 2005; he is still fighting civil charges being pursued by New York state. The New York Attorney General’s investigation led to a $1.6 billion fine for AIG and criminal charges for some of its executives. Greenberg was succeeded as CEO by Martin J. Sullivan, who had begun his career at AIG as a clerk in its London office in 1970.

On June 15, 2008, after disclosure of financial losses and subsequent to a falling stock price, Sullivan resigned and was replaced by Robert B. Willumstad, Chairman of the AIG Board of Directors since 2006. Willumstad was forced by the US government to step down and was replaced by Edward M. Liddy on September 17, 2008. AIG’s board of directors named Robert Benmosche CEO on August 3rd 2009 to replace Mr. Liddy, who earlier in the year announced his retirement.

Business

Holdings

Further information: Holdings of American International Group

In the United States, AIG is the largest underwriter of commercial and industrial insurance, and AIG acquired American General Life Insurance in August 2001.

Auto insurance

AIG sold auto insurance policies through its subsidiary unit, AIG Direct (aka aigdirect.com). The policies they offered included insurance for private automobiles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and commercial vehicles.

AIG purchased the remaining 39% that it did not own of online auto insurance specialist 21st Century Insurance in 2007 for $749 million.

With the failure of the parent company and the continuing recession in late 2008, AIG rebranded its insurance unit to 21st Century Insurance. In April 2009 it was announced that AIG was selling the 21st Century Insurance subsidiary to Farmers Insurance Group for $1.9 billion.

Travel Insurance

Main article: AIG Travel Guard

AIG sells travelers insurance internationally through Travel Guard, headquartered in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Financial crisis

Further information: Subprime mortgage crisis, Financial crisis of 2007–2010, and Liquidity crisis of September 2008

Chronology of September 2008 liquidity crisis

On September 16, 2008, AIG suffered a liquidity crisis following the downgrade of its credit rating. Industry practice permits firms with the highest credit ratings to enter swaps without depositing collateral with their trading counter-parties. When its credit rating was downgraded, the company was required to post additional collateral with its trading counter-parties, and this led to an AIG liquidity crisis. AIG’s London unit sold credit protection in the form of credit default swaps (CDSs) on collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that had by that time declined in value. The United States Federal Reserve Bank announced the creation of a secured credit facility of up to US$85 billion, to prevent the company’s collapse by enabling AIG to meet its obligations to deliver additional collateral to its credit default swap trading partners. The credit facility provided a structure to loan as much as US$85 billion, secured by the stock in AIG-owned subsidiaries, in exchange for warrants for a 79.9% equity stake, and the right to suspend dividends to previously issued common and preferred stock. AIG announced the same day that its board accepted the terms of the Federal Reserve Bank’s rescue package and secured credit facility. This was the largest government bailout of a private company in U.S. history, though smaller than the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a week earlier.

AIG’s share prices had fallen over 95% to just $1.25 by September 16, 2008, from a 52-week high of $70.13. The company reported over $13.2 billion in losses in the first six months of the year.The AIG Financial Products division headed by Joseph Cassano, in London, had entered into credit default swaps to insure $441 billion worth of securities originally rated AAA. Of those securities, $57.8 billion were structured debt securities backed by subprime loans.CNN named Cassano as one of the “Ten Most Wanted: Culprits” of the 2008 financial collapse in the United States.

As Lehman Brothers (the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history at that time) suffered a catastrophic decline in share price, investors began comparing the types of securities held by AIG and Lehman, and found that AIG had valued its Alt-A and sub-prime mortgage-backed securities at 1.7 to 2 times the values used by Lehman which weakened investors’ confidence in AIG. On September 14, 2008, AIG announced it was considering selling its aircraft leasing division, International Lease Finance Corporation, to raise cash. The Federal Reserve hired Morgan Stanley to determine if there are systemic risks to a financial failure of AIG, and asked private entities to supply short-term bridge loans to the company. In the meantime, New York regulators allowed AIG to borrow $20 billion from its subsidiaries.

At the stock market’s opening on September 16, 2008, AIG’s stock dropped 60 percent. The Federal Reserve continued to meet that day with major Wall Street investment firms, hoping to broker a deal for a non-governmental $75 billion line of credit to the company. Rating agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poor downgraded AIG’s credit ratings on concerns over likely continuing losses on mortgage-backed securities. The credit rating downgrade forced the company to deliver collateral of over $10 billion to certain creditors and CDS counter-parties.The New York Times later reported that talks on Wall Street had broken down and AIG may file for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, September 17. Just before the bailout by the US Federal Reserve, AIG former CEO Maurice (Hank) Greenberg sent an impassioned letter to AIG CEO Robert B. Willumstad offering his assistance in any way possible, ccing the Board of Directors. His offer was rebuffed.

Federal Reserve bailout

On the evening of September 16, 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank’s Board of Governors announced that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had been authorized to create a 24-month credit-liquidity facility from which AIG could draw up to $85 billion. The loan was collateralized by the assets of AIG, including its non-regulated subsidiaries and the stock of “substantially all” of its regulated subsidiaries, and with an interest rate of 850 basis points over the three-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (i.e., LIBOR plus 8.5%). In exchange for the credit facility, the U.S. government received warrants for a 79.9 percent equity stake in AIG, with the right to suspend the payment of dividends to AIG common and preferred shareholders.[13][23] The credit facility was created under the auspices of Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act.[23][38][39] AIG’s board of directors announced approval of the loan transaction in a press release the same day. The announcement did not comment on the issuance of a warrant for 79.9% of AIG’s equity, but the AIG 8-K filing of September 18, 2008, reporting the transaction to the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that a warrant for 79.9% of AIG shares had been issued to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. AIG drew down US$ 28 billion of the credit-liquidity facility on September 17, 2008. On September 22, 2008, AIG was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average. An additional $37.8 billion credit facility was established in October. As of October 24, AIG had drawn a total of $90.3 billion from the emergency loan, of a total $122.8 billion.

Maurice Greenberg, former CEO of AIG, on September 17, 2008, characterized the bailout as a nationalization of AIG. He also stated that he was bewildered by the situation and was at a loss over how the entire situation got out of control as it did. On September 17, 2008, Federal Reserve Board chair Ben Bernanke asked Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson join him, to call on members of Congress, to describe the need for a congressionally authorized bailout of the nation’s banking system. Weeks later, Congress approved the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Bernanke said to Paulson on September 17, “We can’t keep doing this. Both because we at the Fed don’t have the necessary resources and for reasons of democratic legitimacy, it’s important that the Congress come in and take control of the situation.”

Additional Bailouts of 2008

From mid September till early November, AIG’s credit-default spreads were steadily rising, implying the company was heading for default. On November 10, 2008, the U.S. Treasury announced it would purchase $40 billion in newly issued AIG senior preferred stock, under the authority of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.The FRBNY announced that it would modify the September 16 secured credit facility; the Treasury investment would permit a reduction in its size from $85 billion to $60 billion, and that the FRBNY would extend the life of the facility from three to five years, and change the interest rate from 8.5% plus the three-month London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) for the total credit facility, to 3% plus LIBOR for funds drawn down, and 0.75% plus LIBOR for funds not drawn, and that AIG would create two off- balance-sheet Limited Liability Companies (LLC) to hold AIG assets: one will act as an AIG Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Facility and the second to act as an AIG Collateralized Debt Obligations Facility. Federal officials said the $40 billion investment would ultimately permit the government to reduce the total exposure to AIG to $112 billion from $152 billion On December 15, 2008, the Thomas More Law Center filed suit to challenge the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, alleging that it unconstitutionally promotes Islamic law (Sharia) and religion. The lawsuit was filed because AIG provides Takaful Insurance Plans, which, according to the company, avoid investments and transactions that are”un-Islamic”.

Counterparty Controversy

AIG was required to post additional collateral with many creditors and counter-parties, touching off controversy when over $100 billion was paid out to major global financial institutions that had previously received TARP money. While this money was legally owed to the banks by AIG (under agreements made via credit default swaps purchased from AIG by the institutions), a number of Congressmen and media members expressed outrage that taxpayer money was going to these banks through AIG. In January, 2010, a document known as “Schedule A – List of Derivative Transactions” was released to the public, against the wishes of the New York Fed. It listed many of the insurance deals that AIG had with various other parties, such as Goldman Sachs, Société Générale, Deutsche Bank, and Merrill Lynch.

Had AIG been allowed to fail in a controlled manner through bankruptcy, bondholders and derivative counterparties (major banks) would have suffered significant losses, limiting the amount of taxpayer funds directly used. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke argued: “If a federal agency had [appropriate authority] on September 16 [2008], they could have been used to put AIG into conservatorship or receivership, unwind it slowly, protect policyholders, and impose haircuts on creditors and counterparties as appropriate. That outcome would have been far preferable to the situation we find ourselves in now.” The “situation” to which he is referring is that the claims of bondholders and counterparties were paid at 100 cents on the dollar by taxpayers, without giving taxpayers the rights to the future profits of these institutions. In other words, the benefits went to the banks while the taxpayers suffered the costs.

Post-bailout expenditures

The week following the September bailout, AIG employees and distributors participated in a California retreat which cost $444,000 and featured spa treatments, banquets, and golf outings.

It was reported that the trip was a reward for top-performing life-insurance agents planned before the bailout. Less than 24 hours after the news of the party was first reported by the media, it was reported that the Federal Reserve had agreed to give AIG an additional loan of up to $37.8 billion. AP reported on October 17 that AIG executives spent $86,000 on a previously scheduled English hunting trip. News of the lavish spending came just days after AIG received an additional $37.8 billion loan from the Federal Reserve, on top of a previous $85 billion emergency loan granted the month before. Regarding the hunting trip, the company responded, “We regret that this event was not canceled.”An October 30, 2008 article from CNBC reported that AIG had already drawn upon $90 billion of the $123 billion allocated for loans. On November 10, 2008, just a few days before renegotiating another bailout with the US Government for $40 billion, ABC News reported that AIG spent $343,000 on a trip to a lavish resort in Phoenix, Arizona. [63]

Settlement of credit default swaps

On October 22, 2008, pdubs and those creditors of Lehman Brothers who bought credit default swaps to hedge them against Lehman bankruptcy settled those accounts. The net payments were $5.2 billion even though initial estimates of the amount of the settlement were between $100 billion and $400 billion.

By December 2008, AIG had paid at least $18.7 billion to various financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs and Société Générale to retire obligations related to credit default swaps (CDS). As much as $53.5 billion related to swap payouts are part of the bailout.

On March 15, 2009, under mounting pressure from Congress and after consultation with the Federal Reserve, AIG disclosed a list of major recipients of collateral postings and payments under credit default swaps, guaranteed investment agreements, and securities lending agreements. Below is data from one of the charts AIG released, representing only a portion of the total payouts, over a period of a few months.

Sales of assets

AIG since September 2008 has marketed its assets to pay off its government loans. A global decline in the valuation of insurance businesses, and the weakening financial condition of potential bidders, has challenged its efforts. If the U.S. government decides to continue to protect the company from falling into bankruptcy, it may have to take the assets itself in exchange for the loans, or offer further direct financial support.

As of Sept 6, 2009, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Pacific Century Group has agreed to pay $500 million for a part of American International Group Inc.’s asset management business, and that they also expect to pay an additional $200 million to AIG in carried interest and other payments linked to future performance of the business.

Also in 2009, AIG sold its operations in Colombia to Ecuador’s Banco del Pichincha.

On March 1, 2010, insurance company Prudential confirmed that it was in advanced negotiations to buy the Asian operations of AIG.[Prudential was to buy the pan-Asian life insurance company, American International Assurance (AIA), for approximately $35.5 billion. On June 1, 2010 the deal failed because AIG would not accept the $30.5 billion after Prudential lowered the amount by $5 billion from the originally planned $35.5 billion after Prudential shareholder discontent.

AIG agreed on March 8, 2010 to sell its American Life Insurance Co. unit (Alico) to MetLife Inc. for $15.5 billion in cash and stock by November 1, 2010. Alico has annuities, life and health insurance operations in Japan, Middle East (including Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan), Western and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. AIG said it will sell Alico for $6.8 billion in cash and the remainder in MetLife equity. The deal leaves AIG as the second-largest shareholder of MetLife, with a stake of more than 20% in the company.

On March 29, 2010, Bloomberg L.P. reported that after almost three months of delays, AIG had completed the $500 million sale of a portion of its asset management business, branded PineBridge Investments, to the Asia-based Pacific Century Group.[74]

On September 30th 2010, AIG announced an agreement to sell two of its life insurance companies in Japan, AIG Star and AIG Edison, to Prudential Financial for $4.2 billion in cash and $600 million in the assumption of third party debt to help repay some of the money owed to the U.S. government.

On November 1st 2010, AIG announced it had raised $36.71 billion from the sale of ALICO and an initial public offering for AIA. The company will use the proceeds Federal Reserve Bank of New York credit facility and make payments on other interests owned by the government.

Record losses

On March 2, 2009, AIG reported a fourth quarter loss of $61.7bn (£43bn) and revenue of −$23.7bn (−£16.2bn) for the final three months of 2008. This was the largest quarterly loss in corporate history at that time. The announcement of the loss had an impact on morning trading in Europe and Asia, with the FTSE100, DAX and Nikkei all suffering sharp falls. In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to below 7000 points, a twelve-year low.[78][79] The news of the loss came the day after the U.S. Treasury Department had confirmed that AIG was to get an additional $30 billion in aid, on top of the $150 billion it has already received.[ The Treasury Department suggested that the potential losses to the US and global economy would be ‘extremely high’ if it were to collapse and has suggested that if in future there is no improvement, it will invest more money into the company, as it is unwilling to allow it to fail. The firm’s position as not just a domestic insurer, but also one for small businesses and many listed firms, has prompted US officials to suggest its demise could be ‘disastrous’ and the Federal Reserve said that AIG posed a ‘systemic risk’ to the global economy. The fourth quarter result meant the company made a $99.29 billion loss for the whole of 2008, with five consecutive quarters of losses costing the company well over $100 billion. In a testimony before the Senate Budget Committee on March 3, 2009, the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated that “AIG exploited a huge gap in the regulatory system,” … and “to nobody’s surprise, made irresponsible bets and took huge losses”.

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