WASHINGTON BUREAU — Robert Benmosche, who retired from the post of chairman at MetLife Inc. in 2006, will be the new chief executive officer of American International Group Inc.
Benmosche, 64, will be inheriting the CEO title from Edward Liddy, who is now both chairman and CEO of AIG, New York, Aug. 10, when Liddy retires, AIG says.
AIG also has announced that Paula Rosput Reynolds, the company’s vice chairman and chief restructuring officer, has decided to leave late in the third quarter.
Earlier today, AIG was refusing to comment on a Wall Street Journal report that Benmosche had been selected. AIG still has not said who will be chairman when Liddy gives up that title.
The news that Benmosche will be AIG’s next CEO came on the heels of rumors that MetLife, New York, may be in negotiations to acquire ALICO, Wilmington, Del. – the former American Life Insurance Company unit – from AIG.
A former insurance industry executive who worked with Benmosche at MetLife says the executive is more of a “chief operating officer-type than a hands-off CEO.”
When Benmosche becomes AIG’s CEO, “don’t expect Mr. Benmosche to be a punching bag when he talks to Congress,” the former executive says. “He will speak his piece, and will not take the abuse Mr. Liddy did when explaining his position [to members of Congress].”
At AIG, managers “ought to be stepping up their efforts, because Benmosche will demand results,” the former executive says. “He will take home reams of reports, and he will come back the next day ready to ask the tough questions.”
Frank Keating, president of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, welcomed the news that Benmosche might become CEO of AIG. “Bob Benmosche’s knowledge of the insurance industry is second to none,” Keating says.
Benmosche was born in the Catskills and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Alfred University. He served in Korea for 2 years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corp.
He later worked for a large bank as a vice president for human resources. From 1982 to 1995, he held executive positions in marketing, finance, securities operations, administration and human resources at Paine Webber Inc., New York.
MetLife brought Benmosche in as an executive vice president in 1995 to oversee the combination of MetLife’s operations with those of New England Financial.
Benmosche became chairman and CEO of MetLife in 1998. Benmosche helped demutualize MetLife in 2000, managing efforts to organize an initial public offering that raised about $2.5 billion.
Liddy, the former chairman and CEO of Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill., took over at AIG in September 2008 at the request of then-Treasury Henry Paulson, as the government was in the process of providing $80 billion in capital in exchange for a 79.9% stake in AIG.
Insurance industry observers say Liddy, who is earning $1 a year for his work at AIG, has helped stabilize the company. Despite his efforts, he has endured withering attacks from critics of AIG’s bonus payments.