American International Group Inc., the bailed-out insurer, will be part-owned by the U.S. Treasury Department for “a very long time,” said Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, who led the firm for about four decades though 2005.
“Treasury owns 77 percent of the company,” he told Lisa Murphy and Adam Johnson today on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” “They’re going to be a shareholder for a very long time. With that stock overhanging, it’s very difficult to see how they’re going to come out of that.”
AIG has sold more than $50 billion in assets, including non-U.S. life insurers, a consumer lender and an asset manager, to repay its 2008 bailout. Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche, 67, is seeking to improve returns on equity at the New York-based insurer as the government weighs cutting its stake in future public offerings.
“He’s doing as well as could be expected,” said Greenberg, who is chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co. “He’s a decent guy, and I think he’s trying. But his hands are tied behind him with the government.”
The Treasury sold 200 million shares in AIG at $29 apiece in May, cutting its stake from 92 percent. The government needs to sell at an average of about $28.72 a share to break even. The insurer rose 2.7 percent to $23.15 today in New York.