In the decade after Maurice “Hank” Greenberg left American International Group Inc. amid regulatory probes, the insurer had five chief executive officers. For most of that time, Greenberg, 90, has been clashing with regulators who questioned his integrity, successors who oversaw losses, and government officials who took control of the company in a 2008 bailout.
Below is a timeline of key milestones before, during and after his career at AIG, which he built in to the world’s largest insurer.
1919: Cornelius Vander Starr founds American Asiatic Underwriters in Shanghai.
1960: Greenberg joins C.V. Starr & Co.
1962: Starr names Greenberg president of American Home Assurance Co.
1967: AIG, which was formed to hold companies founded by Starr, names Greenberg CEO.
1972: Greenberg accompanies President Richard Nixon on trip to Beijing.
1985: Greenberg asks Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos to forgo another term, according to a book by Lawrence Cunningham and Greenberg. The insurance executive was contacted by “a senior U.S. government official” about making the request, according to the book.
1987: Greenberg forms the AIG Financial Products venture with Howard Sosin, former head of Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc.’s interest rate products group, to develop, market and trade derivatives.
1990: AIG buys International Lease Finance Corp. The unit can borrow cheaply because of AIG’s strong credit rating, and then buy planes to lease to airlines.
1995: Greenberg’s son Jeffrey resigns as AIG’s executive vice president and joins broker Marsh & McLennan Cos.
1999: AIG acquires SunAmerica Inc. to add U.S. retirement services operations. The deal helps Greenberg further diversify beyond property-casualty insurance, where results can be volatile because of weather extremes and pricing fluctuations.
Jan. 21, 2000: Greenberg says his son Evan will succeed him as CEO.
Nov. 6, 2001: Evan Greenberg is named to run the reinsurance business of Ace Ltd.
Oct. 14, 2004: AIG stock falls 10 percent after New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sues Marsh & McLennan. Spitzer accuses the insurance broker, which is led by Jeffrey Greenberg, of taking payouts to steer unsuspecting clients to certain insurers. Spitzer says AIG is among companies that participated in bid rigging, though the insurer isn’t named as a defendant in the suit.
March 14, 2005: AIG says Martin Sullivan will replace Greenberg as CEO.
March 28, 2005: Greenberg tells AIG he’s stepping down as chairman, relinquishing ties with the company he spent four decades building into the world’s biggest insurer.
May 1, 2005: AIG says it will correct five years of results for transactions that inflated its net worth by about $2.7 billion
May 26, 2005: Spitzer sues AIG and Greenberg, saying the insurer used sham reinsurance contracts and altered its books to understate liabilities.
Sept. 27, 2005: AIG sues in federal court for control of company stock held by Starr International Co., an insurance and investment business run by Greenberg.
Feb. 9, 2006: AIG agrees to pay more than $1.6 billion in a settlement with Spitzer and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to resolve allegations it misled investors, fixed bids and cheated workers’ compensation programs.
Sept. 6, 2006: Spitzer drops portions of the suit against Greenberg.
Nov. 2, 2007: Greenberg begins a campaign to shake up AIG management after a stock slide tied to subprime mortgage losses.
Dec. 12, 2007: New York Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo says Greenberg must stop trying to influence AIG unless he gets an exemption from state rules relating to people who control more than 10 percent of a company’s stock.
March 26, 2008: AIG sues Greenberg and other former executives, claiming they misappropriated stock worth more than $20 billion by taking over the board of Starr International, AIG’s largest shareholder, and converting it into a private investment vehicle for their benefit. The complaint mirrors the federal claim filed by AIG against SICO in 2005.
May 12, 2008: Greenberg says that the insurer is in “crisis” and should delay its annual meeting after a record $7.81 billion first-quarter loss tied to derivative bets by the AIG Financial Products unit.
June 9, 2008: Greenberg invests in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
AIG is “falling apart,” and management needs to be replaced, Greenberg tells CNBC.
June 15, 2008: Robert Willumstad is named to replace Sullivan as CEO and says the next day that he plans to have “a more interactive relationship” with Greenberg.
Sept. 16, 2008: With AIG on the verge of collapse, investors led by Greenberg say that they are considering taking control of the insurer through a proxy fight or participating in a buyout. They also are considering buying assets from AIG, according to a regulatory filing.
Greenberg says in an interview that there is no need for federal conservatorship of the insurer. “Why would you want to wipe out shareholders when you just need a bridge loan?” he asks. He said he hasn’t seen any numbers to indicate the company needs as much as $75 billion.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York agrees to loan as much as $85 billion in exchange for an AIG stake of almost 80 percent in a bailout that eventually swells to $182.3 billion.
Sept. 17, 2008: The value of Greenberg’s 11 percent AIG stake plunges to less than $650 million, from more than $16 billion at the end of 2007. The sum covers personal holdings and shares that he controls through investment firms including Starr International.
Sept. 18, 2008: Ed Liddy, the former CEO of Allstate Corp., is picked by AIG’s board to be replace Willumstad, who was ousted by the U.S.
Sept. 25, 2008: Greenberg says he’s cut his AIG stake to just below 10 percent, a move that may make it easier for him to bid for parts of the insurer
Oct. 7, 2008: Greenberg tells lawmakers that AIG was healthy when he left and that controls he put in place were weakened or eliminated. He submits written testimony rather than testify to Congress in person, because his is ill, according to his lawyer.
Dec. 23, 2008: Greenberg said that Liddy’s experience running a U.S. home and auto insurer “hardly equips” him to run a global company like AIG.
Jan. 20, 2009: Greenberg says he’ll probably sit out auctions of AIG assets, calling the breakup of the company a “tragedy.”
Feb. 19, 2009: Greenberg says divesting a Tokyo tower is part of AIG’s “dumb” strategy and that “If you sell that building, the loss of face to every Japanese employee would be profound.”
March 2, 2009: Liddy says Greenberg is partly to blame for the firm’s woes.
“I think he’s responsible” for some of the insurer’s struggles, Liddy tells Bloomberg Television. “The formation of the AIGFP unit, which has literally brought us to our knees, that happened on his watch. The compensation systems that have gone astray, happened on his watch. I don’t think it’s as clean and simple as sometimes Hank would like to portray.”
Starr International hires AIG’s Charles Dangelo to be CEO of a subsidiary as the bailed out company loses managers to more stable rivals.
Greenberg sues AIG for securities fraud, saying the company’s “material misrepresentations and omissions” caused him to acquire shares at an inflated value.
April 2, 2009: Greenberg says banks that benefited from AIG’s bailout should return some of the cash they got from the bailed-out insurer in exchange for stakes in a recapitalized company. “AIG is not too big to be managed,” Greenberg tells lawmakers. “It is too big to be managed poorly.”
July 7, 2009: A federal jury rejects AIG’s claims that Starr International looted stock from the insurer.
Aug. 6, 2009: Greenberg agrees to pay $15 million to settle SEC claims that he manipulated AIG’s earnings.
Aug. 27, 2009: AIG climbs 27 percent on speculation that the company will benefit from improved relations with Greenberg under Robert Benmosche, the insurer’s new CEO.
“The world may choose to vilify him,” Benmosche said in a Reuters report. “I think of him as having had some problems, but he can help us with the solutions.”
Sept. 17, 2009: Greenberg meets with U.S. Representative Edolphus Towns and pitches a plan to trim the interest rate on the government bailout loan and give the insurer more time to repay, according to an aide to the lawmaker.
Nov. 25, 2010: AIG agrees to settle all legal disputes with Greenberg, saying it will return photographs and a Persian rug and may reimburse as much as $150 million in legal fees.
Jan. 14, 2010: Greenberg says Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which collected billions of dollars from AIG after the insurer’s bailout, is “to blame for a lot of what went on” at AIG. The bank had demanded collateral from AIG on contracts that were written to guard against losses tied to subprime mortgages.
April 20, 2010: New York’s case against Greenberg is “devastating,” State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos says in a court hearing. Greenberg had sought a decision before the trial or a dismissal.
Jan 12, 2011: “They’re making themselves weaker” at AIG through the sale of assets to help repay the bailout, Greenberg says. “AIG will have a more volatile business going forward.”
Nov. 21, 2011: Greenberg’s Starr International sues the U.S. over the bailout, seeking $25 billion in damages, saying the government violated the Constitution by demanding majority control as a condition of the bailout.
Sept. 21, 2012: Starr serves AIG’s board with a demand requesting that the insurer either take control of the claims in the suit against the U.S. or allow Greenberg’s company to pursue them on the insurer’s behalf.
Jan. 9, 2013: AIG opts against joining Starr’s suit against the U.S. after lawmakers said the case was an insult to taxpayers who bailed out the insurer.
Jan. 15, 2013: Starr hires Jeff Hayman, previously AIG’s head of global consumer insurance at the property-casualty unit, as president of international operations as Greenberg pursues growth in Asia.
March 21, 2013: Grandparents.com Inc. announces that Greenberg will lead efforts to establish deals with insurers to offer health, auto, home and life coverage to seniors.
July 12, 2013: Greenberg sues Spitzer, accusing the former attorney general of making false and defamatory statements as part of a campaign to damage his reputation.
Oct. 10, 2014: Ben Bernanke, former Fed chairman, says he wasn’t looking to punish AIG for mismanagement when the board of governors authorized the bailout loan with a steep interest rate and a demand for equity in 2008.
“I did not make any personal judgments at the time about the quality of management at AIG, but I did know of course that AIG was having difficulty making contractual payments,” Bernanke says in the trial over Greenberg’s suit. “The company was on the brink of failure.”
Feb. 25, 2015: Greenberg says Starr is pursuing growth in Cuba with a travel-assistance venture as the U.S. eases decades-old restrictions on visiting the country.
June 15, 2015: U.S. Court of Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler rules that the U.S. set illegal terms in the bailout, but that doesn’t mean the insurer’s investors deserve compensation.