Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Man Who Saved AIG

One day you may be lucky enough to rent "Bobby's Cabana," a well-appointed cottage on a lavish estate just north of Dubrovnik, Croatia. It's where the estate's owner, Bobby, really gets to be Bobby -- innkeeper, wine maker, cancer survivor, restructuring expert, and corporate chieftain. And it's from there that Robert Benmosche (pronounced BEN-mo-SHAY) lights up the phone lines for several weeks a year as the CEO of insurance behemoth American International Group (ticker: AIG).
These are good times for Benmosche, 68. He recently marked his third anniversary as CEO of AIG. Second-quarter earnings jumped 27%, and last week, the company's largest shareholder, the U.S. government, whittled its stake down to 53%. Benmosche says he believes that a full exit might be possible by the end of 2013. That's an especially impressive feat given that the company was considered toxic as recently as two years ago.
How Benmosche restored a wounded AIG to health after the biggest bailout of the financial crisis is one of the great management stories of the new century: A tale of rallying the troops, intelligently downsizing, and managing often rocky relations with Washington.

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