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AIG back on the offensive, chairman says

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(Bloomberg) — American International Group Inc. is benefiting from an improved reputation after the insurer finished repaying a $182.3 billion U.S. bailout a year ago, Chairman Steve Miller said.

“We were the most disrespected brand name on the planet and now we have come back,” Miller said today in a Bloomberg Television interview with Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We’ve built a company with tremendous momentum and we’re going back on offense.”

Under Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche, AIG has restored its name to its main units, resumed using it in television ads and struck deals to sponsor rugby teams in the U.S. and New Zealand. In 2009, then-CEO Edward Liddy said the name was “wounded and disgraced” by the company’s bailout, amid protests against the New York-based insurer and other financial firms.

“If you go back four years, Goldman Sachs probably wouldn’t even have been sitting with me,” said Miller, who was interviewed alongside Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President Gary Cohn. “We were in deep trouble then.”

The insurer needed the bailout after it was unable to meet obligations to Goldman Sachs and other banks that had turned to AIG for protection against declines in mortgage-related investments. The two firms had a “contentious relationship” marked by disputes about how much collateral AIG had to post on derivative contracts, Phil Angelides said in 2010 when he was chairman of the Federal Crisis Inquiry Commission,

Financial network

AIG said last week that it would rebrand its American General agent force as AIG Financial Network, extending its name to another line of business. The company hired David May from Goldman Sachs last year to the newly created position of chief marketing officer to help improve the insurer’s brand.

AIG fell 2.7 percent to $47.86 at 4:15 p.m. in New York, while Goldman Sachs lost 1.8 percent. The insurer has rallied 31 percent in the past 12 months.

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