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AIG sells 90% of plane leasing unit for $5.28B

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NEW YORK (AP)—American International Group Inc. on Sunday said it will sell up to 90 percent of its airplane leasing unit, International Lease Finance Corp., to a Chinese investor group for approximately $5.28 billion.

The investor group is led by Weng Xianding, chairman of New China Trust Co. Ltd., and also includes China Aviation Industrial Fund and P3 Investments Ltd. The group will acquire 80.1 percent of ILFC for approximately $4.23 billion, with an option for an additional 9.9 percent stake.

If Chinese regulatory approval is obtained and the option is exercised, the investor group is expected to expand to include New China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and an investment arm of ICBC International, a subsidiary of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

U.S. regulatory approval is also needed. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

AIG will keep at least 10 percent of the Los-Angeles based company.

ILFC will continue to operate out of Los Angeles and remain incorporated in the U.S. The division leases more than 1,000 aircraft to airlines and other customers in more than 80 countries.

CEO Henri Courpron and President Frederick S. Cromer will continue to operate and manage the business. In June, Courpron was docked $1 million in pay after acknowledging he had an inappropriate relationship with an unnamed employee that was “contrary to AIG’s expectations of its officers.”

The company currently employs about 560 people, including more than 450 people based in the U.S., and expects to hire additional U.S.-based staff to replace AIG-supported operations.

AIG has said the jet-leasing business is a non-core asset. The company had previously planned to take the unit public.

The insurer has been selling off parts of its business to raise money to pay back the $182 billion bailout that it received from the government during the financial crisis of 2008. It was the biggest of the government’s bailouts. The government, which earlier this year owned 77 percent of AIG stock, has been gradually selling its stake. As of September 30, the U.S. owned just under 16 percent of AIG’s outstanding common stock, according to a regulatory filing.

AIG announced it was in talks to sell to the Chinese investment group on Friday. Investors reacted by pushing AIG stock up 2.6 percent, 87 cents, to $34.13.

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