AIG hits up Fed for more money

Three weeks after an $85 billion bailout, AIG is turning to the New York Fed for additional funding.

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By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney.com senior writer

aig_chart.jpg

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The New York Federal Reserve is lending up to $37.8 billion to American International Group to give the troubled insurer access to much-needed cash.

In exchange, AIG is giving the New York Fed investment-grade, fixed-income securities that it had previously lent out to other institutions for a fee. Those institutions are now returning these securities and want their money back.

The new program, announced Wednesday, is on top of the $85 billion the federal government agreed to lend to AIG last month to prevent the global company from collapsing. AIG said last Friday it had drawn down $61 billion.

The lending program is a way for AIG to get funding for its businesses, said a New York Fed spokesman. The system is similar to lending facilities the Fed provides to banks, which can also exchange collateral for cash.

The latest announcement does not jeopardize the government's ability to recoup its loan to AIG, experts said.

"AIG will repay the loan," said Stewart Johnson, portfolio manager at Philo Smith, an investment bank specializing in insurance. "It's just a matter of how much of themselves they will have to sell."

Paying back a big debt

On Sept. 16, the Federal Reserve Board agreed to lend AIG $85 billion, using the company's assets as collateral. The loan is expected to be repaid from the proceeds of the asset sales. Interest on the line of credit is steep, and the government took a 79.9% stake in the company.

Last week, AIG said it planned to hold onto its property-and-casualty insurance businesses, while selling off the rest of the company to pay the massive debt.

Those other business lines include its aircraft leasing unit; asset-management division; retirement services; and U.S. life insurance operations.

AIG chief executive Edward Liddy, who was installed by the Federal Reserve last month after the bailout, on a conference call last Friday was optimistic about the potential for the asset sales.

"We fully expect to emerge from this with a capital structure that's fit to fight," he said. "Our insurance businesses...are strong and well-capitalized."

But some analysts are more skeptical. "The current disruption in the credit markets could make it difficult to sell businesses at attractive valuations," ratings agency Standard and Poor's said.

CreditSights valued the units AIG planned to sell at $32.9 billion and the divisions it will keep at $86 billion. These figures do not include the sale of a minority stake in its foreign life insurance operations, valued at $133.1 billion.

First to hit the market will likely be units tied to airline leasing and consumer lending, both of which require funding from the debt markets, which is hard to come by these days. International Lease Finance Corp. could command more than $7 billion and American General Finance Corp. will likely bring in about $2 billion, according to CreditSights.

Once AIG sells its assets, it faces many hurdles in stabilizing its property and casualty insurance divisions, experts said.  To top of page

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