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MailTribune.com
  • U.S. makes $22 billion from sale of AIG shares

    Remaining shares earned $7.6 billion
  • WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department said it would raise $7.6 billion in the sale of its remaining shares of American International Group Inc., ending the controversial bailout of the insurance giant with a $22.7 billion profit.
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  • WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department said it would raise $7.6 billion in the sale of its remaining shares of American International Group Inc., ending the controversial bailout of the insurance giant with a $22.7 billion profit.
    The department agreed Tuesday to sell its remaining 234 million shares in AIG, which represented 15.9 percent of the company, for $32.50 each. The offering is expected to be completed Friday.
    The sale, in effect, closes the books on a bailout that, at its height, left the government pledging more than $182 billion in taxpayer funds to rescue the firm in return for owning 92 percent of its shares.
    "The closing of this transaction will mark the full resolution of America's financial support of AIG — with a profit to taxpayers of $22.7 billion to date," AIG Chief Executive Robert Benmosche wrote in an email to company employees Tuesday.
    "It marks one of the most extraordinary — and what many believed to be the most unlikely — turnarounds in American business history," Benmosche wrote.
    Despite the bailout's profit, critics note the huge toll it took on public confidence in the financial system and the precedent it helped set for government intervention to protect companies deemed too big to fail.
    "The bailout was an enormous cost to this country," said Phil Angelides, who headed the government's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
    Since 2008, AIG has been selling assets to raise money to repay the government and stabilize the company's finances.
    Bad bets on the housing market brought AIG to the brink of bankruptcy in September of that year, helping fuel the financial crisis and drawing an unprecedented effort by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to keep the company afloat.
    The bailout was the single largest of the crisis and fueled outrage and resentment from the public, Congress and government officials. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said no single episode involving the near meltdown of the financial system made him angrier than having to help bail out AIG after its risky behavior.
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