A week after rebranding its property/casualty arm, and in unison with the naming of a potential successor to its beleaguered CEO, American International Group Inc. is reportedly close to selling AIG Investments, its asset management business.

The insurer plans to divest the asset to a consortium that includes private equity firm Crestview Partners for $300 million to $400 million, Reuters reports a source familiar with the matter said yesterday.

Crestview appears to have won out over a handful of other bidders, including Ashmore Investment Management, Hellman & Friedman, Rhone Group and TA Associates, says a report from The Euromoney Institutional Investor. Mutual fund manager Franklin Templeton Investments, asset manager Southgate Alternative Investments and Religare Enterprises also were among the bidders.

Should the deal come to fruition, it would come months after it was put on the market.

Both AIG and Crestview declined to comment, Reuters reported, and the source was granted anonymity because talks are private.

However, not all the news was good for AIG yesterday. Moody's Investors Service downgraded of two AIG lending units to the brink of junk territory, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, underscores the challenge in finding debt financing or a willing buyer for the units.

Moody’s lowered American General Finance Corp. and International Lease Finance Corp. (ILFC) by one level to Baa3, and their ratings were put on review for further downgrades.

The Journal reports the downgrade of ILFC is mostly the result of concerns about the aircraft financier's long-term strategy for funding its $44 billion portfolio of commercial aircraft, assuming the firm's planned divestiture by AIG is completed. Moody's said it believes the unit's access to unsecured debt sources will likely be diminished, notwithstanding a recovery in the debt markets and a transfer of company ownership.

As for American General’s downgrade, Moody's cited concerns about the lender's funding profile, operating pressures and franchise value. Until recently, Moody's said, American General had funded its operations primarily with public unsecured debt, but changed to supplement funding with bank loans, asset sales and securitizations because of constraints in the unsecured debt markets.

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