Mainly government-owned former insurance giant AIG is looking to accelerate its separation from Uncle Sam under a plan that would quickly pay back U.S. taxpayers the money they’re owed, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Under the plan, the government would convert its $49 billion in preferred shares in AIG into common stock, initially raising its stake in the company to around 90 percent from its current 80 percent position, people familiar with the plans told The Journal. After that, the U.S. would sell the common shares to private investors (this part of the plan assumes, of course, that the private market wants anything to do with AIG). Great, right? Well, let’s keep the cork on the champagne bottle for the moment. Too hasty an exit would leave an enfeebled AIG at the mercy of the private market. The company has had trouble selling some of its assets to raise capital and so is vulnerable to another meltdown.
The company has lately been optimistic that it can end its uncomfortable marriage with the U.S. government. On the heels of its second-quarter earnings report, CEO Robert H. Benmosche said in a statement: “AIG’s continuing insurance operating results remain solid, while the company continues to execute on its restructuring plans and prepares for separation from the U.S. government.”