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AIG to Focus on Reducing Debt Before Paying Dividend, CEO Says

American International Group Inc. will focus on lowering its obligations on bonds before returning capital to shareholders, Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche said today.

“Our highest priority is to make sure that we focus on getting high-cost debt out, reducing our expenses for interest, and improving our coverage ratio,” Benmosche said in a conference call today held by New York-based AIG. “As the year progresses, we will then begin to look at things like ‘could we add a dividend to the stock and also could we have some kind of modest stock buyback?’ But we’re going to wait until we’re very, very sure we’re in great shape.”

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