While the unwinding of the federal government’s ownership position in American International Group will take some time, this week the process began in earnest as the U.S. Treasury Department sold 200 million shares of the company on the open market.

The sale, combined with the simultaneous sale of 100 million shares by AIG, netted approximately $8.7 billion. While temporarily depressing the company share price, the offering is seen as vital to the company’s long-term health as it reduced the Treasury’s stake in AIG from 92% to 77%. Moreover, a Treasury official conceded to Reuters that the department does not have any specific timetable or deadline for selling its remaining 1.5 billions shares of AIG.

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