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US0268741073 AAIG

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AIG-AMERICAN INTL GROUP : AIG Holders Meet on Takeover

22 sept. 200816:39

AIG Holders Meet on Takeover; Ex-CEO Spurns Severance (Update3)
By Hugh Son

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc. shareholders, opposed to an $85 billion Federal Reserve takeover that may dilute their stakes, plan to meet today in New York City to discuss alternatives.

Maurice ``Hank'' Greenberg, the former chief executive officer of the New York-based insurer and one of the biggest stakeholders, will probably be represented at the afternoon meeting, said his lawyer, David Boies, in an interview late yesterday. Attorneys for other investors contacted Boies in the past week about the gathering, he said, without naming them or saying how many will attend.

``To pull this off strikes me as terrifically tricky,'' said James Cox, a professor at Duke University who specializes in securities law. ``A defensive takeover by investors of their own firm, on this scale, has never happened before.''

The insurer, crippled by losses tied to the worst U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression, agreed to turn over control to the government last week in exchange for a federal loan of as much as $85 billion. The original terms said the U.S. would get warrants equal to a 79.9 percent stake, and that shareholder approval would be sought. A new description filed Sept. 19 omitted any mention of warrants or a shareholder vote.

New York Stock Exchange rules require companies hold shareholder votes to issue more than 20 percent in new shares, unless the firms can claim extraordinary circumstances, said Cox.

``AIG must have had some understanding with the governance people at the NYSE,'' Cox said.

Investor Meeting

The investor meeting on alternative plans ``is being organized by other people,'' said Boies, whose client controlled about 11 percent of AIG shares through two investment firms and personal holdings before the government takeover. The meeting was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

New CEO Edward Liddy plans to repay the loan before the two- year deadline and told employees Sept. 18 he may decide which assets to sell within two weeks.

AIG's plane-leasing unit will be ``an interesting business to sell,'' Liddy told CNBC today.

``There's an awful lot of leverage in it, but I think we can do this in a smart way,'' Liddy said. International Lease Finance Corp., the biggest lessor to airlines by aircraft value, drew down $6.5 billion in credit lines last week.

Liddy said AIG will become a smaller and ``nimbler'' company after assets are sold to repay the loan. He may have a list of everything for sale, and possibly announce completed transactions, within 7 to 10 days, Liddy said.

No Payment

Separately, Robert Willumstad, the AIG CEO replaced as part of the U.S. takeover last week, rejected a $22 million severance payment he was entitled to under his contract, said a person familiar with the situation.

Willumstad didn't take the money because his three-month tenure ended before he could unveil a turnaround strategy and because investors and employees had lost so much on AIG stock, said the person, who declined to be identified because the refusal hasn't been announced yet. Willumstad informed AIG of his decision in an e-mail to Liddy, the person said.

AIG spokesman Nicholas Ashooh declined to comment and Willumstad couldn't be reached.

The insurer, the biggest in the U.S. by assets, already borrowed $28 billion as of Sept. 17, the Federal Reserve said last week, even though full specifics of the accord with the government haven't been publicly released. The revised terms still give the U.S. ``a 79.9 percent equity interest in AIG,'' the insurer said in its new filing. ``The corporate approvals and formalities necessary to create this equity interest will depend upon its form,'' the filing said.

Hank Greenberg

Greenberg, who saw the value of the AIG stake he controls plunge by more than $5 billion this month, has said the takeover might have been avoided if AIG got a bridge loan, tapped private investors and sold assets. Greenberg, 83, sent a letter to Willumstad before the latter was replaced offering to help and complaining that his earlier offers had been rebuffed.

AIG gained 97 cents, or 25 percent, to $4.82 at 10:03 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock sold for more than $72 in December 2006.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugh Son in New York at hson1@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: September 22, 2008 10:17 EDT


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