AIG is Last Man Standing When It Comes to Government Assistance
A year and a half after TARP was passed, AIG is now the last deadbeat institution still owing a significant chunk of cash to the U.S. government. But don't let their delay make you think they aren't totally committed to paying back the taxpayer, they just haven't quite been able to get around to it yet.
American International Group Inc., recipient of the first and the biggest of U.S. insurer bailouts, will become the last carrier with public funds now that Lincoln National Corp. plans to repay its rescue.
AIG Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche, who promised taxpayers full redemption and a profit, is selling units and counting on a revival at the businesses that remain. His stewardship got a vote of confidence from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on June 9, while the following day Congressional Oversight Panel Chairman Elizabeth Warren said taxpayers were still saddled with “a lot of risk.”
“They’re going to owe their ability to repay the taxpayer to capital-market conditions that are not in the hands of Robert Benmosche or Ben Bernanke,” said Bill Bergman, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago.
Lincoln plans to sell shares and notes to fund repayment of its $950 million in aid, the Philadelphia-based insurer said today. AIG owes about $26.6 billion on a Fed credit line and $49 billion to the Treasury. Its bailout, which dates from September 2008, swelled to as much as $182.3 billion.
“AIG remains committed to repaying the taxpayer,” Mark Herr, a company spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement. Herr cited Benmosche’s testimony on repayment before Warren’s committee last month, when the CEO said “AIG will do so with interest.”
Here is a novel idea: why doesn't AIG merge with Fannie and Freddie and we can just make it an unlimited, no-time-limit bailout for everyone?! Come on, it'll be fun.