American International Group Inc., once an insurance stalwart, has become a shell of its former self, felled by the credit crunch and bad bets on credit default swaps. Founded in China in 1919, AIG at its peak operated in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions around the world, the globe's most extensive network of insurance operations. The formerly triple-A rated, blue-chip giant fell apart swiftly and came to the brink of failure before being rescued by the U.S. government in 2008. It's now owned 80% by Uncle Sam, whose stewardship has been marked by dysfunction and frequent changes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
AIG, a holding company for a range of insurance and insurance-related enterprises, as well as financial services and asset management businesses, has lately been focused on selling off most of its operations to pay back its government loan, with the New York Fed overseeing the process. It selling a big international life-insurance unit, American Life Insurance Co., known as Alico, to rival MetLife Inc., but the sale of its Asian life-insurer American International Assurance Ltd. to the U.K. insurer Prudential PLC was recently scrapped. International Lease Finance Corp., one of the two biggest aircraft-leasing companies in the world, has been on the block as it's seen as a noncore business. AIG recently sold AIG United Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co. Canada, the second-largest private mortgage insurer in Canada, to a private investor group led by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
Meantime, the company is shedding jobs wholesale and losing star power as executives jump ship. The company has been embroiled in controversies including heated debates over pay and decisions to make swap counterparties, such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., whole following its rescue, paying out billions in what's been called a secret backdoor bank bailout. Treasury and Federal Reserve officials have defended themselves against accusations that they acted to protect the interests of individual institutions, not taxpayers. Another point of contention at the company: Chief Executive Robert Benmosche's use of the corporate jet. Meantime, employees in the company's financial products unit continue to work to unwind thousands of derivative trades that still pose a risk to the company and finance system.
Despite the chopping block, the company still maintains a careers page, though postings seem spotty at best. Because a lot of senior managers have been jumping ship, there might be some interesting career opportunities here. Some employees in its financial products employees received death threats during its 2009 bonus season. The company is seeking to play down its payouts and is working hard to working hard to avoid stirring public resentment and stoking a mass employee exodus.