Possible Successors to AIG’s Benmosche

October 26, 2010

Bailed-out insurer American International Group said on Monday that Chief Executive Robert Benmosche has cancer and is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy.

AIG said Benmosche intends to work a full schedule during his treatment, but it is also making contingency plans.

Following are brief profiles of some possible successors to Benmosche, ranked in order of most likely to least likely:

JAY WINTROB

A corporate lawyer by training, Wintrob runs AIG’s domestic life insurance business.

Formerly head of the company’s retirement services business, Wintrob was named chief executive officer of domestic life and retirement services in August 2009. AIG has called that combined business the third-largest U.S. life insurer.

He joined SunAmerica in 1987, joining AIG when it acquired the insurer in 1999.

After he left his legal practice, he was executive assistant to billionaire Los Angeles investor Eli Broad, which was how he got into insurance. (Broad’s firm owned SunAmerica at the time).

“Jay Wintrob is the guy,” UBS analyst Andrew Kligerman said on Monday.

PETER HANCOCK

The other internal executive most often mentioned as a potential CEO of AIG is Peter Hancock, who joined the company in February as vice president of finance, risk and investments.

He came to AIG from KeyCorp., where he was vice chairman. Previously he spent 20 years at J.P. Morgan, where he founded the derivatives group, ran the fixed income operation and was the firm’s chief financial officer.

Asked in the past about the possibility of Hancock succeeding him, Benmosche has said only that he is one of a number of AIG executives capable of running the company.

Hancock’s hiring was seen as a major coup for AIG, particularly as it tried to restructure its risk oversight in the wake of the U.S. government bailout.

ROBERT ‘STEVE’ MILLER

Miller became chairman of AIG in July, replacing Harvey Golub, who lost a power struggle with Benmosche (who had reportedly threatened to quit if Golub stayed).

Miller has no background in insurance but is a veteran of mega-restructurings and is well known to AIG’s primary owner, the U.S. government.

He has previously been CEO of auto parts makers Delphi Corp. and Federal-Mogul Inc., as well as chairman or chief executive officer of diverse companies that include Bethlehem Steel, Waste Management and Morrison Knudsen. He is also a former chief financial officer of automaker Chrysler.

Miller, who joined AIG’s board in June 2009, is the author of a 2008 book called “The Turnaround Kid,” which chronicles his work in corporate revivals.

DOUGLAS STEENLAND

RONALD RITTENMEYER

Steenland and Rittenmeyer, both AIG directors and both former CEOs of major corporations, have had their names tossed around as potential successors, at least in the short term.

Steenland is the former chief executive of Northwest Airlines. He led the company into and out of bankruptcy and then sold it to Delta Air Lines, retiring when that deal was completed in 2008.

Rittenmeyer is the former CEO of Safety-Kleen and of Electronic Data Systems. He retired from EDS in 2008 after Hewlett Packard acquired the company.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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