Ex-AIG CEO Sullivan Joins Willis Group

September 8, 2010

Former AIG Chief Executive Officer Martin Sullivan, who was ousted three months before the U.S. government bailed the insurer out, is joining Willis Group Holdings PLC, the insurance broker said on Wednesday.

Sullivan will head a new unit that will oversee brokerage and risk management advisory services for multinational and global accounts for Willis. He will also be deputy chairman of the company, reporting to CEO Joe Plumeri.

Sullivan has 40 years of experience in the industry, Willis said in a statement.

He is best known for his tenure with American International Group Inc, which was collapsing as he left the company in 2008. For that, Sullivan is linked to AIG’s role in the financial crisis.

The insurance giant wound up getting a pledge of up to $182 billion from U.S. taxpayers to address problems at its financial products division.

Sullivan, during testimony in June before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, said AIG had already been in crisis before he took the helm in 2005. But he did defend its risk management practices.

“When I look back at my tenure, I believe that AIG’s risk management practices were well-designed, well-staffed and well-funded,” he said.

After Sullivan’s departure, AIG switched CEOs three times in a little over a year.

In December 2007, just weeks before AIG began to unravel, Sullivan and other executives made an investor presentation that prompted some to later question whether the company’s top brass knowingly misled investors.

“AIG has significant financial resources and a very healthy balance sheet that will allow us to capitalize on an attractive opportunity,” Sullivan said during the presentation.

The Financial Times first reported that Sullivan would join Willis.

(Reporting by Steve Eder in New York and Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Lisa Von Ahn)

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