Saturday, October 25, 2008

AIG Has My Head Spinning

The U.S. government has taken control of, among other things, insurance giant AIG.

Said takeover is not going well by all accounts, but this Washington Post story yesterday has only questions - no answers.

The government agreed to lend AIG $85 billion dollars and take over 80% of the company. As an aside, if you agree to give away 80% of your company, throw out all of top management and have no choice in the matter, that is not a bailout. The Fed planned to use the $85 billion to untangle AIG's toxic balance sheet while at the same time selling off assets to get itself repaid.

The Fed has since bumped the $85 billion to $123 billion and has not done much on the asset sale front, as potential buyers smell a distressed seller.

That is the story as written by the Post, but is it the whole story?

As recently as 15 months ago, the common stock of AIG was worth $195 billion. The insurance operating company from what I hear is very strong. 80% of $195 billion, the taxpayers' stake, would be worth over $150 billion if now were then. There's no way it is that high but what is it? What is the value of the core AIG? Could someone please write that story?

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