Business & Tech

‘I am here to grow AIG,’ new CEO pledges

New AIG chief executive Brian Duperreault says he will expand the company, not break it up.
ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images
New AIG chief executive Brian Duperreault says he will expand the company, not break it up.

Since being pulled back from the brink in the 2008 financial crisis, American International Group has shrunk significantly. And activist investors have further pushed to split the insurer.

The company’s new chief executive, however, pledged Monday to focus on growth.

“Let me be clear, I am here to grow AIG,” the executive, Brian Duperreault, said at the company’s consumer insurance investor day Monday.

Advertisement

“I recognize the value of the company’s multiline structure,” he said. “I didn’t come here to break the company up. I came here to grow it.”

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

His appointment is a homecoming. Duperreault, 70, worked 21 years at AIG before leaving in 1994. He was a lieutenant to Maurice R. Greenberg, who built the New York-based company into a global colossus before resigning as chief executive amid accounting investigations in 2005.

Duperreault replaces Peter D. Hancock, who abruptly announced plans to resign as AIG’s chief executive in March after shareholders lost faith in a 2½-year turnaround effort.

Hancock, a former J.P. Morgan executive, had come under pressure from activist investors. In 2015, the billionaire Carl C. Icahn publicly called for AIG to be split up and to get new leadership.

On Monday, Icahn, who has a nearly 5 percent stake in AIG, applauded the new chief executive.

Advertisement

“Very pleased the AIG board is finally making some of the much-needed changes we’ve been advocating the last 18 months,” he wrote on Twitter.

Shares of AIG were up more than 1 percent Monday.

Duperreault, who founded and was chief executive of Hamilton Insurance Group of Bermuda, does not come cheap. He will receive an annual salary of $1.6 million; a short-term annual incentive bonus of $3.2 million, which would be prorated for 2017; and a long-term incentive award of $11.2 million.

He also would receive a one-time cash award of $12 million as compensation for unvested equity he forfeited by leaving Hamilton and the option to purchase 1.5 million shares of AIG stock as a one-time, sign-on award.

Duperreault becomes the sixth chief executive to run the insurer since the departure of Greenberg, who is known as Hank.

Advertisement

In joining AIG, Duperreault will find a company much different from when he left and will face a difficult task in bringing the insurer back to its precrisis heights.

‘Let me be clear, I am here to grow AIG. . . . I didn’t come here to break the company up. I came here to grow it.’

AIG was once considered the gold standard for insurance companies as it expanded through acquisitions engineered by Greenberg, its longtime leader.

The insurer nearly collapsed in September 2008 and received a $185 billion government bailout. In recent years, AIG’s performance has lagged its peers, despite efforts by its leadership to simplify the company and trim costs.

Investors have been frustrated by the slow pace of recovery at AIG, but they were particularly rattled in February by the quarterly loss of $3.04 billion, which was larger than expected.

The loss was largely a result of a $5.6 billion increase in reserves to cover potential claims. Shares of AIG tumbled 9 percent the day after the results were announced.

Duperreault started at AIG in 1973 and rose through its executive ranks, leaving the company in 1994 for the top job at ACE.

He served as chief executive of ACE until 2004, when he was replaced by Evan G. Greenberg, Greenberg’s son and now the chief executive of Chubb. Duperreault served another two years as ACE’s nonexecutive chairman until he retired in 2006.

Duperreault returned to the insurance business two years later as president and chief executive of the professional services firm Marsh & McLennan Companies.

He retired again in 2012, only to be drawn back to the industry again in 2013 when he began running Hamilton, which he helped found.

“Brian is uniquely qualified to lead AIG at this important time. Brian has spent his entire career in insurance,” Douglas M. Steenland, the company’s chairman, said in a news release.

“He is a hands-on leader who has consistently delivered strong bottom-line results,” Steenland added.

AIG separately announced that it had agreed in principle to acquire Hamilton’s platform in the United States as part of a push to accelerate its application of data science and analytics to improve its insurance underwriting.