AIG’s hubris (UPDATED)
AIG means it when they say ‘Thank You America’ in the TV advertisements. They mean it so much they are considering suing the US government over the terms of the 2008 bailout because, yeah, there were other investors just lining up with better terms and the mean old government forced them to take the federal bailout.
Also, it wasn’t clear from the initial article, but is made explicit in the FT Alphaville post, the lawsuit that AIG is considering joining is one by former head of AIG. He departed after a major scandal that saw him accused of fraud by Eliot Spitzer. Alphaville includes a couple quotes (via Dealbook) that puts the company in the unenviable position of being potentially liable to lawsuits from shareholders and also coming across as the most ungrateful of companies that blew themselves up in 2008:
Should Mr. Greenberg snare a major settlement without A.I.G., the company could face additional lawsuits from other shareholders. Suing the government would not only placate the 87-year-old former chief, but would put A.I.G. in line for a potential payout.
Yet such a move would almost certainly be widely seen as an audacious display of ingratitude. The action would also threaten to inflame tensions in Washington, where the company has become a byword for excessive risk-taking on Wall Street.
Some government officials are already upset with the company for even seriously entertaining the lawsuit, people briefed on the matter said.
UPDATE: DealBook reminds everyone that the bailout actually could have been much more harsh than it already was.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s an excellent response to Hank Greenberg and AIG.