American International Group, Inc., or AIG, is an American multinational insurance corporation. Its corporate headquarters is reported as 180 Maiden Lane in New York City (was formerly in the American International Building in New York City). The British headquarters office is on Fenchurch Street in London, continental Europe operations are based in La Défense, Paris, and its Asian headquarters office is in Hong Kong. According to the 2011 Forbes Global 2000 list, AIG was the 29th-largest public company in the world. It was listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average from April 8, 2004 to September 22, 2008.
AIG suffered from a liquidity crisis when its credit ratings were downgraded below "AA" levels in September 2008. The United States Federal Reserve Bank on September 16, 2008 created an $85 billion credit facility to enable the company to meet increased collateral obligations consequent to the credit rating downgrade, in exchange for the issuance of a stock warrant to the Federal Reserve Bank for 79.9% of the equity of AIG. The Federal Reserve Bank and the United States Treasury by May 2009 had increased the potential financial support to AIG, with the support of an investment of as much as $70 billion, a $60 billion credit line and $52.5 billion to buy mortgage-based assets owned or guaranteed by AIG, increasing the total amount available to as much as $182.5 billion. AIG subsequently sold a number of its subsidiaries and other assets to pay down loans received, and continues to seek buyers of its assets.
AIG history dates back to 1919, when Cornelius Vander Starr established an insurance agency in Shanghai, China. Starr was the first Westerner in Shanghai to sell insurance to the Chinese, which he continued to do until AIG left China in early 1949—as Mao Zedong led the advance of the Communist People's Liberation Army on Shanghai. Starr then moved the company headquarters to its current home in New York City. The company went on to expand, often through subsidiaries, into other markets, including other parts of Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.
In 1962, Starr gave management of the company's lagging U.S. holdings to Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg, who shifted its focus from personal insurance to high-margin corporate coverage. Greenberg focused on selling insurance through independent brokers rather than agents to eliminate agent salaries. Using brokers, AIG could price insurance according to its potential return even if it suffered decreased sales of certain products for great lengths of time with very little extra expense. In 1968, Starr named Greenberg his successor. The company went public in 1969.
Beginning in 2005, AIG became embroiled in a series of fraud investigations conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Justice Department, and New York State Attorney General's Office. Greenberg was ousted amid an accounting scandal in February 2005; he is still fighting civil charges being pursued by New York state. The New York Attorney General's investigation led to a $1.6 billion fine for AIG and criminal charges for some of its executives. Greenberg was succeeded as CEO by Martin J. Sullivan, who had begun his career at AIG as a clerk in its London office in 1970.
AIG purchased the remaining 39% that it did not own of online auto insurance specialist 21st Century Insurance in 2007 for $749 million.With the failure of the parent company and the continuing recession in late 2008, AIG rebranded its insurance unit to 21st Century Insurance.
On June 15, 2008, after disclosure of financial losses and subsequent to a falling stock price, Sullivan resigned and was replaced by Robert B. Willumstad, Chairman of the AIG Board of Directors since 2006. Willumstad was forced by the US government to step down and was replaced by Edward M. Liddy on September 17, 2008. AIG's board of directors named Robert Benmosche CEO on August 3, 2009 to replace Mr. Liddy, who earlier in the year announced his retirement.
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