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AIG to avoid losing proposition of regulatory battle, CEO says

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(Bloomberg) — American International Group Inc. (AIG), which was named a potential risk to the financial system by U.S. regulators, prefers to cooperate with watchdogs rather than to resist oversight, Chief Executive Officer Peter Hancock said.

“For the most part, where we encounter government, whether it’s in Japan, the U.K., at the federal level in the U.S. or at the state level, we see an alignment,” Hancock said Wednesday when asked at a conference if there was too much interference from regulators. “The benefits of having a collaborative relationship with all of the government agencies you operate with, in my view, far outweigh scoring points as to whether more or less government is good.”

AIG is one of four companies designated by a Treasury Department-led panel as a non-bank systemically important financial institution, or SIFI, a tag that can lead to tighter capital rules. Rival insurer MetLife Inc. is suing to overturn the designation, and General Electric Co. is selling assets in a plan that could help the company’s finance arm escape the grip of the Federal Reserve’s too-big-to-fail oversight.

AIG has already shrunk its balance sheet, partly through asset sales that helped the New York-based insurer repay a U.S. bailout, said Hancock, who became CEO last year.

“We are in the business of serving our clients and rewarding our shareholders with great returns,” Hancock said. “Getting into an ideological battle of whether more or less government is a good thing doesn’t seem like a winning proposition.”

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