AIG Progress Reflects a ‘Certain Stubbornness,’ Benmosche Tells Investors

American International Group Inc. (AIG), the insurer majority owned by the U.S. government, has benefited from “a certain stubbornness” as it repaid bailout funds, Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche said.

“We are here because we just don’t give up,” Benmosche, 67, said today in a letter to shareholders posted on New York- based AIG’s website.

Benmosche halted the pace of asset sales when he took over in 2009, saying the company needed time to find the best prices, and rebuffed the suggestion from former Chairman Harvey Golub that AIG would be worth more if it split the life insurance and property-casualty divisions. The CEO worked to retain employees and clients as the insurer recovered from mortgage-related losses that forced the company to take a 2008 bailout that swelled to $182.3 billion.

“Less than three short years ago, AIG leadership was steering this great company to its breakup,” Chairman Steve Miller said today in a separate letter. “Then Bob came along with an outsider’s fresh perspective.”

The insurer has repaid a Federal Reserve credit line and surged 25 percent this year in New York. AIG advanced 13 cents to $29.09 at 10:29 a.m. The government, which lowered its stake to 77 percent last year in a public offering, needs an average price of at least $28.72 a share to recoup its investment.

After-tax operating income at AIG was $1.56 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $2.21 billion a year earlier, the insurer said last week. Benmosche is relying on profit from the Chartis global property-casualty insurer and SunAmerica U.S. life unit as he seeks private investors to replace government funds.

To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in New York at nbuhayar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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