The new boss isn't turning out to be the same as the old boss. Where former American International Group Inc. CEO Edward Liddy initially planned to swiftly liquidate many of the company's subsidiaries in an effort to repay its $80 billion in government loans, new chief Robert Benmosche seems to have a different strategy in mind.
This alternative strategy, Reuters reports, centers on selling stakes in its businesses rather than shedding entire units, which would allow the company to reap significant tax benefits.
But even this plan isn't without peril, as selling more than 20% of a business could cost AIG the ability to use losses to reduce future tax bills. AIG already realized about $12.8 billion of these deferred tax assets on its books at the end of June—a number that likely could rise as the company stabilizes.
While AIG has already divested a number of businesses, including last week's deal to sell part of an asset management unit, many other assets are still on the block, including aircraft lessor ILFC and Asian life insurer Alico. Some observers have estimated that deals for these units could raise $20 billion or more, Reuters says, but many sales have stalled amid a weak deals market.
As a result, Benmosche has a serious dilemma on his hands as to whether the proposed tax benefits make it worth his while to delay peddling AIG's largest, most profitable units, such as property/casualty division, Chartis. The unit reportedly is worth about $40 billion, but experts say finding a buyer willing to pay that sum is highly unlikely.
As an alternative, Reuters posits that putting up to 20% of Chartis in an IPO could raise more than $8 billion and, should the unit grow more profitable, it could provide billions more in deferred tax assets.
Benmosche said last month that he expects to take a month or two to revamp the company's turnaround plan.
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