U.S. Gov’t Sells $6B in AIG Shares

Mar 8, 2012 10:47am

The U.S. government will further cut its stake in American International Group Inc. after its bailout more than three years ago, getting back a slice of the $182 billion in taxpayer money injected into what was once the world’s largest insurer.

The Treasury Department launched a sale of AIG stock today, expecting about $6 billion for almost 207 million shares at $29 a share.  AIG made losing bets on mortgage-backed securities at the height of the financial crisis, wiping out the company.

Clark Troy, research director of independent research and advisory firm, Aite Group, said the announcement was “welcome and long-awaited.”

“The primary goal of the Treasury at this point in time should not be to book a profit with each individual AIG-related transaction,” he said. ”The government and taxpayers need to do what we can to put the crisis in the rearview and get back to business as usual

New York-based AIG  is buying about $3 billion of the shares, expecting steady future profits. The company agreed to buy over 103 million shares at $29 a share, or 23 cents more than the government’s break-even price of $28.72.  The government’s move will reduce its ownership in the firm from 77 percent to about 70 percent.

“We’re continuing to move forward to wind down TARP and exit our stakes in private companies as soon as practicable,” assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Stability, Tim Massad, said in a statement. “Today is another important step in our efforts to recover the taxpayer’s investment in AIG.”

In 2008, the government initiated a record bailout package of more than $182 billion during the financial crisis. Congress authorized the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, in October 2008 to provide relief to AIG, banks and auto companies.

The Treasury first began selling AIG stock in May 2011, in its effort to exit from its ownership of the company.

The stock offering priced on Thursday and an agreement to fully repay Treasury’s preferred equity interest on Wednesday are expected to provide at least $14.5 billion in proceeds toward repaying the taxpayers’ investment in AIG, therefore reducing the Treasury’s remaining investment in AIG to $37.8 billion.

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