Even to this day American International Group (AIG) is one of the world's largest insurance firms. While it held the spotlight for staggering losses and government bailouts, the company's subsidiaries have steadily provided general property/casualty insurance, life insurance and retirement services, financial services, and residential mortgage guaranty insurance to commercial, institutional, and individual customers in the US and more than 130 countries around the world. In exchange for $161.3 billion in bailouts, at one point the US government held more than 90% of AIG. An exit plan of repayments and stock sales gradually shrunk that number, with the US Treasury announcing the final sale of AIG shares in late 2012.
Using cash earned from sales of subsidiaries big and small, by the end of 2011 the company had paid back the US government all but $8.4 billion. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York sold its remaining AIG mortgage bonds in November 2012, and the Treasury department announced the sale of its last holdings in the company, consisting of $7.6 billion in stock, in December 2012. In total, the company returned some $182.3 to the federal government, as well as some $22.7 billion in positive returns for taxpayers.
Having crawled its way back from the edge of an abyss, AIG is leaner and cleaner than before and has nice black ink on its ledgers. After selling off piles of non-core businesses and quietly disposing of some messier operations, the company has tidied up its remaining subsidiaries and placed them in neatly labeled businesses.
During its darkest days when the AIG name still carried a strong scent of instability, the company created an independently managed company to hold its otherwise profitable property/casualty businesses, and named it Chartis. The business now serves commercial and individual clients in the US and around the world and has continued to be a solid source of growth for AIG growth since its creation. The company then gathered up all of its domestic life insurance and retirement services businesses, including VALIC, American General Life Companies, and SunAmerica Life Assurance, and placed them under the SunAmerica Financial Group umbrella.
However, after its outlook stabilized, in late 2012 AIG announced that it would bring Chartis and the SunAmerica umbrella organization back into the AIG-branded fold. Chartis now operates as AIG Property Casualty, and SunAmerica Financial Group is known as AIG Life and Retirement (though its individual operating units retain their brands).
In early 2012 AIG announced plans to collect all of the workplace benefits products from Chartis and American General Life to form AIG Benefit Solutions. The business began operating through two segments: U.S. Employee Benefits (including employer-funded and voluntary products) and U.S. Affinity Benefits (to serve affinity groups).
AIG's United Guaranty Corporation was one of the few mortgage guaranty insurance businesses to survive the subprime mortgage meltdown. With tighter guidelines, the business is now polished up and faces fewer competitors in its domestic and international markets.
Sales and Marketing
AIG Property Casualty and AIG Life and Retirement distribute their products every way possible -- from specialty brokers, independent agents, financial advisors, banks, direct to the consumer, and through affinity groups.
The company has divested most of its non-insurance operations. In 2011, AIG formed a new subsidiary, ILFC Holdings, through which it planned to conduct an IPO of the last major non-insurance holding, aircraft leasing business International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). Then, in 2012 it instead agreed to sell a 90% stake in the ILFC operations to a private Chinese investment group for some $5.3 billion. In 2010 Australia's Macquarie Group paid $1.9 billion for some 60 aircraft leaving over 1,000 in the company's portfolio.
Historically, the company's life insurance operations in Asia were key assets, and their piecemeal disposal ended a long story. After selling American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) to MetLife in 2010 and taking its China-based AIA Group Ltd. public in 2010, the company closed the sale of its Taiwan unit Nan Shan Life in 2011. The Ruen Chen investment consortium paid $2.16 billion in cash for what is Taiwan's third-largest insurer. Earlier in 2011 it sold its Japanese life insurance companies, AIG Star Life Insurance and AIG Edison Life Insurance, to Prudential Financial. The sale of the two units brought in some $4.8 billion which went to repay its debts. AIG announced plans to sell off the last of its AIA Group shares (representing a 14% stake) for up to $6.5 billion in late 2012.
AIG is winding down the operations of its AIG Financial Products subsidiary, the unit whose astonishing losses brought the company to its knees. The unit has quit writing new business and has sold several key investments. AIG has also sold off all but 20% of Springleaf Finance (formerly known as American General Finance -- the subprime lending unit whose losses amounted to a boat anchor on the company's recovery. Investment firm Highstar Capital bought out AIG's port operations. Nippon Life Insurance paid $1.2 billion in 2009 for a sweet piece of real estate in Tokyo. A Korean bank and US developer bought up the company's New York headquarters tower. AIG now leases its space in the building.
In mid-2009 Robert Benmosche (a former MetLife executive) was named CEO of the company -- the fifth in five years -- and Harvey Golub was named non-executive chairman. Benmosche grabbed the reins of the company and immediately pulled hard, changing its course with a new plan. Instead of selling off everything of any value, he sought to rebuild the company's value and internal morale. Chartis, which had originally been created for a public offering, was pulled off of the sales counter in late 2009. At times Benmosche's vision for the company differed from the board's and he locked horns with Golub over plans for AIA. Observing that it would be easier to replace a chairman than a CEO, in mid-2010 Golub stepped down and was replaced as chairman by Robert (Steve) Miller. In late 2010 Benmosche was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment for the disease while remaining at his post.
Among the many work-related concerns for Benmosche to contemplate: with government strings attached to AIG's corporate purse, executive salaries were gutted and rival insurers lured away half of the company's top level executives. Loyal executives are being expected to balance the biscuit on their noses -- most of their reduced pay is coming in the form of stock that they'll have to hang onto for several years before liquidating. – less