Greenberg Tells CNBC: Saving AIG is in ‘National Interest’

September 16, 2008

The man who built and ran global insurance giant American International Group for more than 35 years says it is in the “national interest that AIG survive.”

Speaking in an interview on CNBC-TV, Maurice “Hank” Greenbeg, former AIG chief executive officer, said that AIG is facing a liquidity problem, not a solvency problem, and that if it can’t raise cash from private markets, the Federal Reserve should step in with a bridge loan.

“It’s not a bailout; it’s a cash problem,” he said.

He suggested that if rating agencies could be held in abeyance for 90 days, it would give AIG time to do a rights offering and buy time for it to sell assets.

“It’s a national treasure. Letting AIG go down would be a tragic mistake,” Greenberg said.

He said he has reached out to make suggestions to AIG CEO Robert Willumstad, who took the reins on the world’s largest insurer in June, and to top management but “there’s been very little response.”

He said he “never believed this was possible” at AIG and blamed in part lax risk management and growth without controls for the deterioration.

Topics AIG

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