Benmosche, 70, said in an interview that he moved up his exit, which had been slated for early 2015, as his health deteriorated. The CEO, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, said he wants to enjoy the time he has left after outliving earlier prognoses and repaying the insurer’s $182.3 billion U.S. bailout.
“I said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to play the odds,’” Benmosche said in an exclusive interview with Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu at his villa in Croatia. “So let’s accelerate my retirement. And the board was happy to do that.”
Benmosche is turning over the CEO post to Peter Hancock, who leads the property-casualty unit and previously spent two decades at J.P. Morgan & Co. before the bank merged with Chase Manhattan Corp. AIG announced in June that Hancock would become CEO on Sept. 1.
Benmosche has undergone aggressive and experimental treatments since 2010, when he was first told that he had no more than a year to live, he said in the interview. One pill that was supposed to help fight the disease for a single year proved effective for three before it stopped working, forcing another shift in his treatment, Benmosche said.
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“They say I’m stable, which is a big word, because it wasn’t stable for the last six months, and I went through a massive study on a new technology for about three to four months that did zero,” Benmosche said. “I’ll know in another month or two whether we’re making good progress.”
Benmosche told staff in 2010 that he had been planning even before the diagnosis to step down in 2012. He later extended that timeline, and the company said in its annual report filed with regulators in February that he intended to remain CEO until the first quarter of next year.