BREAKING: Treasury sells off 14% of its AIG stake

by R.J. Lehmann on March 8, 2012

Perhaps taking a tip from us here at Out of the Storm News, the U.S. Treasury Department has restarted its stalled effort to sell off its 77% stake in bailed-out insurance giant American International Group.

Treasury said it would sell about 206.9 million of the 1.455 billion shares of AIG that it still owns, at a price of $29 per share.  If the offering is successful (an hour into trading March 8, AIG shares had slipped about 3% to $28.57 a share) it would raise roughly $6 billion. The deal would leave Treasury owning 1.248 billion shares of AIG, or roughly 70% of the company.

About half the shares (103.4 billion) are being bought back by AIG itself, perhaps with some of the $17.7 billion in tax benefits Treasury is allowing the company to take by pretending the $182 billion bailout, which gave the government a 92% stake in the company, did not constitute a “takeover.”

Once AIG and Treasury complete paying down the $8.5 billion interest the government holds in AIG’s stake of Hong Kong insurer AIA Group (AIG recently sold $6 billion of its AIA stock, leaving it with a 19% stake in the company) there would be $47.1 billion left unpaid on the AIG bailout.

The remaining debt includes the $37.8 billion represented by Treasury’s remaining investment in AIG stock and a $9.3 billion loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to the Maiden Lane III special purpose vehicle, which holds collateralized debt obligations on which AIG wrote credit default swap protection. As of year-end 2011, Maiden Lane III’s assets were marked as having a “fair value” of $17.6 billion.

AIG said in a statement that it would pay down the $8.5 billion it owes on the AIA special purpose vehicle using $5.6 billion from its AIA stock sale,$1.6 billion from the recent sale of the remaining assets held by Maiden Lane II (another New York Fed SPV, which held residential mortgage-backed securities from AIG’s securities lending business) and $1.6 billion it expects to receive by May 2013 out of escrowed cash proceeds from its sale of Japanese life insurer American Life Insurance Co. to MetLife. With the AIA SPV paid down, Treasury would release to AIG the vehicle’s remaining collateral assets: the 19% stake in AIA and AIG’s ownership stake in aircraft leasing firm International Lease Finance Corp.

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