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Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 10 News List

AIG to sell Philam Life, 10 suitors express interest

AFP , MANILA

The financially troubled American Insurance Group (AIG) is to sell its local unit Philippine-American Life and General Insurance Co (Philam Life), the unit’s chief executive Jose Cuisia said yesterday.

About 10 local and foreign entities have expressed interest in acquiring all or parts of the group, which is involved in insurance, banking and asset management, Cuisia told a news conference.

He declined to give details and said no time frame had been set by AIG for the sale of the local unit known locally as Philam Life.

Cuisia put the Philippine unit’s net worth at 49.4 billion pesos (US$1.05 billion).

“AIG announced that it will refocus the company on its core property and casualty insurance business to repay its loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,” Cuisia said.

He said he was “surprised” with the decision because Philam Life could be considered a “crown jewel” to AIG.

Philam Life is the Philippines’ most profitable and largest insurer, employing about 1,500 people and backed by assets worth 170 billion pesos.

“AIG is seeking top-rated, financially strong brand names with the capability to continue Philam Life’s legacy of leadership, strength, stability and dedication to its policy holders, employees and shareholders,” Cuisia said.

“This is an opportunity for local companies to own a trophy company,” he said, citing Philam Life’s leading role in local insurance.

He said AIG has hired investment banks JP Morgan and Blackstone to advise it on the sale.

The advisers will help AIG decide whether to sell Philam Life as a whole or part by part, he added.

He said the company remains “strongly capitalized” and would be able to meet all its commitments to depositors, investors and policy holders.

He said most of Philam Life’s investments were tied to government securities and bonds, and that the firm did not have any offshore exposure to troubled US financial institutions.

Cuisia said he was “not leading a management buyout” of the company.

Philam Life deputy president and chief operating officer Michel Khalaf said the company has for decades remained a “net contributor” to AIG.

While the company will seek to retain all its employees, he said there could be some “rationalization” if a buy-out led to duplication of jobs.

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