• Bloomberg


American International Group Inc., the insurer selling assets to repay a U.S. rescue, may seek buyers for its Japanese life units as Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche reshapes the firm.

The Congressional Oversight Panel and analysts including Suneet Kamath of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. have said AIG’s Star Life Insurance Co. and AIG Edison Life Insurance Co. may attract interest.

The two sales could yield $5 billion, Kamath said last month. Benmosche, hired out of retirement last year, agreed to sell one overseas unit, American Life Insurance Co., known as Alico, and plans to divest another, AIA Group Ltd.

“AIG needs to raise money. It needs to define its core competencies going forward and Star and Edison are salable properties,” said Clark Troy, an analyst for research firm Aite Group. “It didn’t make sense to sell Alico and sell AIA and keep the Japanese units.”

AIG is scaling back as some rivals are seeking to expand. Prudential Financial Inc., the second-biggest U.S. life insurer, and Canada’s Sun Life Financial Inc. are adding clients and considering acquisitions with the capital accumulated since the financial crisis. MetLife Inc., the No. 1 U.S. life insurer, agreed in March to pay $15.5 billion for Alico.

AIG is considering selling the two Japanese units for about $5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, without identifying the sources.

“Pru is the only thing that makes sense” among potential U.S. acquirers of Star and Edison, said Steven Schwartz, an analyst with Raymond James & Associates Inc. “If you think about it, Met’s a little busy. You’ve got Pru that has significant life-insurance operations in Japan.”

Prudential Chief Executive Officer John Strangfeld has said the Newark, N.J.-based firm is a “buyer.” The company may add to businesses outside the U.S., according to its annual report. Prudential acquired bankrupt Yamato Life Insurance Co. last year, adding to operations in Japan.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.