Monday, November 5, 2007

The history of AIG

American Insurance Group is the sixth largest company in the world, according to Forbes.

It was founded by Cornelius Vander Starr, a native of California, of Dutch descent, 88 years ago, set up as a Shanghai-based operation selling insurance to the Chinese.
It was marvellously successful, and soon had operations around the world. Of course with the Communist takeover in the 1940s, the company moved its headquarters to New York.

Greenberg climbed up the corporate ladder as Vander Starr's protege, and became his successor when the company founder retired in the late 1960s. Soon thereafter, the company went public. Greenberg remained its chief for more than 35 years.

In October 2004 the New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has since become Governor, announced a lawsuit against Marsh & McLennan Companies -- a brokerage -- for steering clients to preferred insurers with whom the Company maintained lucrative payoff agreements, and for soliciting rigged bids for insurance contracts from the insurers.

Spitzer also announced in a release that two AIG executives had pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with all this steering and rigging.

The resultant brouhaha led to Greenberg's departure early the following year. In February 2006, the State of New York and the post-Greenberg management at AIG agreed to a settlement, including a fine of $1.6 billion.

Greenberg hasn't taken well to retirement. One doesn't get the impression that he's spent a lot of time at the Elba fishin' hole, kicking back with a brew. We'll get into what he HAS been up to, tomorrow.

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