US Government Sells $18B of AIG Stock and Turns a $12.4B Profit

The United States Treasury Department has sold $18 billion of American International Group Inc. (AIG) stock in a public offering. The sale cut the government ‘s stake in the insurance company to approximately 21.5% while making it a $12.4B profit on the bailouts that occurred during the economic crisis. This could be largest secondary offering in our nation’s history. AIG’s shares were sold at $32.50 each.

Meantime, AIG repurchased $5B of its shares with the remaining going to the broader public. In a securities filing, the insurance company said that it intends to use $3B of short-term securities and cash and $2B in proceeds from its sale of its stake in AIA Group to repurchase its stock.

Now, underwriters have 30 days to purchase another $2.7B of AIG shares. The deal’s underwriters include Citigroup Inc. (C), Deutsche Bank, AG (DB), Credit Suisse (CS), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), JPMorgan (JPM), Royal Bank of Canada’s (RY) RBC Capital Markets division, Bank of America Corp’s (BAC) Merrill Lynch division (MER), Morgan Stanley (MS), and Barclays PLC (BCS).

This is the government’s largest sell-down of AIG shares since bailing out the insurer. It had even pledged up to $182.3B to bolster AIG in the wake of growing subprime losses at one point. In return, the government acquired a close to 80% stake in AIG.

To date, the government, which used taxpayer funds to keep some companies afloat during the economic crisis, has gotten back $342 billion of the $411 billion that it through Troubled Asset Relief Program. That said, over 300 small banks that were given funding through TARP still need to pay back taxpayers.

In May, the GAO estimated that taxpayers might profit by $15.1 billion on the AIG bailout. Overallotment, if exercised, will allow the government to arrive at that amount. (The government has been reducing its stake in AIG since early last year. With the overallotment option of the stock sale, the government’s stake will go from 53% to 15.9%.)

According to Reuters, with the Treasury’s ownership stake in it dropping under 50%, because AIG is the owner of a small bank the Federal Reserve will begin regulating it as a savings and loan holding company. This means that AIG will have to be in compliance with the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s new rules, such as the Volcker law, which places a limit on a large financial firm’s being able to have stakes in hedge funds and private equity firms or trade for their own account.

The government’s bailout of AIG after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy about four years ago had totaled $182 billion. Now, Chief Executive Robert Benmosche is saying that the financial rescues, paid back at a profit, have left the insurer positioned for success. The government has also been paid back in huge part the bailout loans it gave to other large financial institutions. However, it still is owed much from its rescues of Chrysler and General Motors and the billions of dollars it used to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac afloat.

Treasury sells big chunk of AIG stock at a profit, Reuters, September 11, 2012

Treasury Sells More AIG Shares: $20.7B Total Cuts Stake To 15.9%, Forbes, September 11, 2012
U.S. Plans $18 Billion Sale of AIG Stock, The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2012

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