AIU Holdings Names Schimek Global CFO; Vows No Breakup of P/C Group

By | June 24, 2009

AIU Holdings, the property/casualty division of insurer AIG and one of the world’s largest commercial insurers, has tapped Robert Schimek to be its first global chief financial officer, a role that includes preparing the company for a stake sale.

AIU Holdings, seeking to distance itself from troubled parent American International Group Inc., is taking steps toward greater independence, including rebranding itself and a sale of up to a 20 percent stake to outside investors through an initial public offering or private deal.

Schimek, in an interview with Reuters this week, said he plans to keep the company unified: “We will not break up AIU Holdings … We are bringing it together under one roof as part of a worldwide U.S.-based property/ casualty insurance company.”

Schimek, 44, joined AIG’s North American commercial insurance business in 2005 from accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he helped prepare several large insurers for IPOs, including No. 1 U.S. life insurer MetLife Inc.

“Rob Schimek’s extensive experience … uniquely qualify him to successfully lead the financial operations of AIU Holdings and advance the organization’s separation strategies,” Kristian Moor, who was named president of AIU Holdings in March, said in a statement.

AIU Holdings comprises AIG’s commercial property/casualty business in North America and its foreign general insurance, as well as a private client group.

AIU Holdings expects to retain its waterfront headquarters in lower Manhattan, and will most likely list its shares in New York.

While AIG posted losses of nearly $100 billion in 2008, AIU Holdings’ businesses in North America turned an after-tax net profit of more than $2 billion. The unit received no capital injection from its parent company in 2008 or this year.

“The AIG situation, the U.S. economy, the U.S. credit markets, a real tough U.S. natural catastrophe season — in the face of all those events, the North American operations still had statutory net income,” said Schimek.

As parent company, AIG will receive the proceeds of any stake sale by AIU Holdings — potentially in the neighborhood of $8 billion if a 20 percent stake is sold. The figure is based on AIU Holdings’ $38 billion valuation under U.S. accounting rules at the end of 2008.

AIG could use the proceeds to help repay bailout funds to the U.S. government. The company nearly collapsed last year under rising collateral demands from customers that bought debt protection from AIG’s financial products unit. Through a series of bailouts, the government committed up to $180 billion to AIG’s rescue, including about $85 billion in loans.

Schimek said it was possible AIU Holdings would reach an agreement to sell a stake to an outside investor in tandem with an initial public offering.

A share sale would give the company direct access to capital markets, he added. A third-party investment could also help to polish a reputation tarnished by the parent company’s near collapse.

“By getting another investor alongside AIG, that is a pretty strong statement that they are satisfied that there is not going to be a deterioration of their investment,” said Schimek.

Two large AIG-owned life insurers — AIA and Alico — are also gearing up for stake sales.

AIU Holdings expects to reach an agreement on a stake sale by the middle to second half of 2010. It is not yet at the stage of picking advisers to run a formal bidding process or share sale.

For now, the company is using the AIU name for its holding company, in keeping with a brand long used by AIG’s foreign general insurance operations. But it could soon settle on a new name. “It probably does need to be more distinct from the AIG brand,” said Schimek.

“For better or worse, it has simply all been viewed as the same … It is not just changing the name. We want to use it as a rallying point for our people,” he added.

AIU Holdings employs about 33,000 people in 130 countries and jurisdictions around the world, serving more than 40 million customers.

Schimek said there were no plans to make big changes to the operating divisions of AIU Holdings’ subsidiaries.

(Reporting by Lilla Zuill; editing by John Wallace)

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