American International Group’s new CEO Edward Liddy says the company will move ahead with plans to sell some of its assets to help pay off the $85 billion it will now owe the Federal Reserve Bank for its rescue. (See story above.)
Which subsidiaries ultimately might be sold remain open to conjecture, however, and few analysts would speculate as to what they might be.
AIG’s assets include a consumer finance business, a private bank, large real estate assets valued at $5.7 billion and extensive investments in corporate stock, a Citigroup analyst noted.
Among the company’s life and annuity subsidiaries are AIG American General Life, AIG Annuity Insurance, AIG Retirement Services and AIG SunAmerica Life Assurance Company.
Along with AIG itself, rating agencies downgraded all its insurance subsidiaries Sept. 15 after the company said it could not meet some of its credit obligations.
After its rescue plan was announced, AIG said its life insurance, general insurance and retirement services businesses are well capitalized and “fully capable of meeting their obligations to policyholders.”
The company also said the rescue gives it “the time necessary to conduct asset sales on an orderly basis.”
Stewart Johnson, portfolio manager of Philo Smith & Co., Stamford, Conn. notes that AIG has 2 broad types of assets that would be of value in a sale: financial services such as International Lease Finance Corp., its aircraft-leasing unit, and life and property-casualty insurance businesses.
“The loan being extended needs to be repaid, and AIG will go through a particular order in selling assets to raise money,” Johnson says. “My guess is that it will sell its financial assets first and save as many life and p-c assets as possible. If I were steering the ship, I would hold onto the traditional insurance businesses.”
Johnson declined to speculate on how much AIG might get for its financial assets, but pointed out the more its new management gets for those assets, the less likely they would be to sell businesses on the insurance side.
Citigroup Inc. analyst Joshua Shanker issued a note to clients speculating that Liddy “will soon begin to entertain offers to sell businesses.”
Emmanuelle Cales, an analyst with Societe Generale, suggested the Fed’s 2-year loan “is a very strong incentive for AIG to sell part of its assets as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said New York Superintendent Eric Dinallo will lead a task force created to speed up any necessary approvals of sales of AIG assets.
Investment bankers gave some AIG insurance subsidiary assets “low evaluations” when they looked at AIG’s books, Dinallo said on CNBC.
In a note, Credit Suisse Group analyst Thomas Gallagher said AIG “has plenty of high-quality businesses potentially for sale.” In addition to rivals in United States, potential buyers could include insurance firms in Canada, China, Australia and Europe, Gallagher said.
AIG’s foreign life insurance subsidiary could sell for more than $60 billion and its domestic life and retirement units could go for as much as $25.2 billion, Gallagher said. He estimated International Lease Finance Corp. could fetch $3.4 billion.