Fitch Ratings called the recent announcement by American International Group, Inc. (AIG) of additional restatements of previously-issued financial statements “a modest negative development.”
Fitch said AIG’s restatement is an indication that the company has not yet fully emerged from the period of uncertainty related to accounting and governance issues that first came to light in February 2005. Fitch’s ratings on AIG and affiliates remain on Rating Watch Negative.
The announcement discloses the need to correct certain errors that were mostly identified during the remediation of previously disclosed material weaknesses in internal controls, according to Fitch. The errors relate primarily to accounting for derivative and related assets and liabilities under FAS 133, reconciliation of certain balance sheet accounts, and income tax accounting. These corrections will require AIG to restate previously issued financial statements and delay the filing of its third quarter 2005 10Q.
Fitch views the following near-term uncertainties as material and supportive of the current Rating Watch Negative status: the financial effect of civil litigation filed on May 26, 2005 by the New York Attorney General and New York Superintendent of Insurance, the magnitude of potential litigation costs from various lawsuits that have been filed, the resolution of ongoing investigations by numerous regulators and governmental authorities, results of the independent actuarial review of loss reserves, and remediation of material weaknesses cited in the auditor’s opinion. Fitch expects to address the Rating Watch when some or all of these uncertainties are resolved or reasonably estimated.
AIG and its subsidiaries also face longer term uncertainties, Fitch noted. These include tangible evidence of how recent developments, including rating downgrades, have affected AIG’s franchise, competitive position, and future financial performance; resolution of the relationship between AIG and Starr entities; the evolution of ceded reinsurance strategies and how that may affect future operating results; subsidiary capitalization strategies; and broader potential changes in management strategies. These uncertainties will likely be addressed by Fitch in future Rating Outlook designations.
AIG’s ratings reflect the company’s pre-eminent global insurance organization, with excellent worldwide brands and franchises, and strong operating results. Fitch also views very favorably the diversified nature of the organization’s products, distribution systems, and geographic reach. This diversification has contributed to AIG’s ability to generate stable and predictable historical operating results.
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