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AIG Shares Tumble For Second Straight Day

 

Wednesday, Sep 02,2009, 10:32:46 AM   Click:

NEW YORK_American International Group Inc. shares tumbled Tuesday for the second straight day as investors sold shares of the embattled insurer nearly as quickly as they bought them last month.

Shares of AIG plummeted $7.12, or 15.7 percent, to $38.21 in afternoon trading amid a broader market sell-off, and a day after losing 10 percent.

Investors had pushed the New York-based insurer share price higher at a dizzying pace in August _ it more than tripled in price during the month, even including Monday's 10 percent sell-off.

"I think it's part that the stock has come too far, too fast," said Len Blum, managing partner at investment bank Westwood Capital. "It's reality setting in."

That reality is that AIG is an insurance giant 80 percent owned by the government and trying to shed assets and spin off divisions in an effort to pay a massive government bailout. The insurer has been slow to sell assets as it tries to get the best return for its still-performing insurance subsidiaries around the world.

New CEO Robert Benmosche has said the company would take its time, if necessary, to get the best return on those sales to repay government loans instead of rushing through sales during a depressed market trying to recover from a deep recession.

AIG was rescued nearly a year ago by the government with an initial package worth $85 billion. It then steadily increased the aid available to AIG to more than $180 billion as market conditions continued to worsen.

AIG was devastated not by its traditional insurance operations, but by its financial products business, which underwrote risky insurance contracts on investments tied to mortgages and other souring debt.

Blum said that recent reports, such as AIG receiving smaller-than-expected bids for its Taiwanese unit, provide reminders about just how far AIG still has to go to get back on its feet.

Tuesday's decline also comes a day after a judge formally ruled a company run by former CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg did not improperly seize AIG stock from an executive retirement plan. A preliminary recommendation in favor of Greenberg had been made earlier in the summer before Monday's final decision.

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