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AIG CEO Leaves Shareholder in Dark on Legal Costs

AIG Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche
Robert Benmosche, president and chief executive officer of American International Group Inc. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

American International Group Inc., the insurer majority owned by the U.S. Treasury Department after a 2008 bailout, declined to reveal legal costs in response to the only investor who asked a question at its annual meeting.

“I don’t believe we go through and identify that as a number that we go public with,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche, 67, told the man who identified himself as an AIG shareholder at the meeting today in New York. “We are working very hard to work that list down and we also do very strong competitive bidding on legal costs, so it’s not a free-for-all. You may think it’s a feeding frenzy on this company. It is not.”

The investor cited the 17-page summary of litigation and investigations in AIG’s quarterly filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including regulatory probes and disputes with shareholders, competitors, ex-executives and a former subsidiary. Benmosche has worked to resolve lawsuits as the Treasury winds down its stake.

“I can tell you that our legal expenses are coming down dramatically,” Benmosche said.

The Treasury has cut its stake in the New York-based insurer to 61 percent from 92 percent in January 2011 through three share sales. The U.S. raised $5.8 billion in the most recent offering on May 6 by selling about 189 million shares for $30.50 apiece. The government needs to divest its stake at an average price of about $28.72 to break even on its investment.

AIG slipped 1.7 percent to $30.45 at 4:02 p.m. in New York and has gained 31 percent this year.

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