Ex-CEO Benmosche Writing Book on Turnaround at AIG

By | October 28, 2014

Robert Benmosche is working on a book about turning around American International Group Inc.

Benmosche’s memoir focuses on the five years he led AIG and is slated to be published in late 2015 or early 2016 by St. Martin’s Press, Tim Bartlett, his editor, said by phone. The book will be called “Good For The Money, My Fight to Pay Back America.”

“It’s a really fascinating story of a business turnaround,” Bartlett said. “It will be tremendously valuable for people who want to see him in action.”

Benmosche started at AIG in August 2009, less than a year after the New York-based insurer’s bailout. The company finished repaying the $182.3 billion U.S. rescue in December 2012, with the U.S. recouping more than $200 billion.

The book will deal with how Benmosche “brought a once- proud company back from the dead, holding his own against Washington naysayers, Wall Street vultures and a populist public plus his own cancer diagnosis,” according to a summary provided by Jon Diat, an AIG spokesman.

Benmosche, 70, was replaced as CEO last month after the prognosis for his cancer worsened. The former CEO hasn’t said what type of cancer he has.

His co-authors are Valerie Hendy, who works at AIG in internal communications, and her husband Peter Marks, a writer for the Washington Post.

Benmosche took a more combative approach to the CEO job than his predecessor, Ed Liddy. In an address to employees soon after he started, Benmosche told staff to slow the pace of unwinding the financial contracts that got AIG into trouble, in order to press for better prices.

‘Biggest Concern’

“I told them yesterday that my biggest concern is you’re selling too fast and you’re being taken by Wall Street,” Benmosche said in an employee meeting in August 2009. “I don’t want to feed Goldman Sachs’s bonus pool anymore. I don’t want to feed Morgan Stanley’s bonus pool anymore. I want to feed ours.”

While Benmosche’s sharp tongue helped rally the company, it also got the CEO into trouble. AIG apologized after Benmosche called then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo “unbelievably wrong” for drawing attention to AIG bonus recipients.

Before joining AIG, Benmosche spent several years in retirement following his departure from MetLife Inc. in 2006. He joined MetLife in 1995 and later became CEO and took the company public. Earlier in his career, he’d worked at Arthur D. Little Inc., Chase Manhattan Bank and PaineWebber Inc.

‘Extremely Dynamic’

Benmosche has said he helped pay for preparatory school and college by driving a truck delivering Coca-Cola Co. products. He graduated from New York’s Alfred University in 1966, and then served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Benmosche is “extremely dynamic and very good at talking about what happened and looking back with a really keen analytical insight,” Bartlett said. ” It’s a kind of classic business turnaround story, one about leadership in a time of crisis.”

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