Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Greenberg Keeps Busy

So what has Greenberg been doing since he left AIG in 2005? Quite a lot. He started his own financial-services company, C.V. Starr & Co. -- tellingly, that name alludes to his mentor, the founder of AIG, Cornelius Vander Starr.

Greenberg has also occupied a seat on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, involved himself with a variety of philanthropies and ... when this much doesn't keep him busy ... he's been litigating, both as a defendant and as a plaintiff.

AIG settled with Spitzer in February 2006, but Mr. Greenberg, as an individual defendant, continued and continues to fight.

In September 2006, the state of New York dropped two of the six charges it had brought againt Greenberg (in a civil case, I ought to add). Four charges remain. Depending on who you believe, this was either a matter of dropping the peripheral matters to focus on the core of the case, or an admission that the case was always a witch hunt and is now just a continuing search for technicalities to justify the expense.

Also, AIG and Greenberg have litigated against one another, including one case filed by each against the other in Delaware state court this summer.

Two months ago, Mr. Greenberg invoked his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions from the SEC.

But what is at stake in any coming battle for control over AIG isn't just a grudge match, dramatically interesting though the idea may be. It is the question of how deeply involved AIG has become with the mortgage market and the problems that has caused this autumn for so many other financial giants. Is it hiding something important here, or will it likely emerge unscathed.

It is begining to appear that anyone who does emerge unscathed will be strengthened, not on general philosophical "that which does not kill me makes me stronger" grounds, but because so many competitors will have been ... well ... scathed.

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