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CNBC EXCLUSIVE: CNBC TRANSCRIPT: CNBC INTERVIEW WITH CV STARR CHAIRMAN & CEO HANK GREENBERG ON "SQUAWK BOX" TODAY AT 8:00 AM

WHEN: Today, Tuesday, Dec. 23rd at 8:00 AM ET

WHERE: CNBC's "SQUAWK BOX"

Following is the unofficial transcript of an exclusive CNBC interview with CV Starr Chairman & CEO Hank Greenberg on CNBC'S "Squawk Box" today.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

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CNBC'S BECKY QUICK: ANOTHER EXCLUSIVE CONVERSATION THIS MORNING. JOINING US RIGHT NOW IS HANK GREENBERG, FORMER CHAIRMAN AND CEO, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY, HE'S NOW THE CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF CV STARR & COMPANY.

HANK GREENBERG: GOOD TO BE WITH YOU, BECKY.

QUICK: WE HEARD THE COMMENTS FROM ED LIDDY, TALKING ABOUT TRYING TO SELL OFF PARTS OF THE BUSINESS AND GET THE BEST PRICE AVAILABLE. HSB GROUP, ORIGINALLY, THE COMPANY WAS BOUGHT FOR $1.2 BILLION. IT WAS SOLD YESTERDAY FOR $722 MILLION. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT?

GREENBERG: FOUR TIMES EARNINGS, TERRIFIC.

QUICK: TERRIFIC FOR THE BUYERS, YOU MEAN?

GREENBERG: OF COURSE.

QUICK: YEAH, FOR THE BUYERS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS.

GREENBERG: MUNICH RE WHO BOUGHT IT -- CFO MADE A COMMENT, GEE, WE COULDN'T HAVE DONE THIS JUST A FEW MONTHS OR A YEAR AGO. SO, THEY'RE DELIGHTED. I DON'T BLAME THEM.

QUICK: IT'S A DIFFERENT BUSINESS THAN IT WAS FOUR MONTHS OR A YEAR AGO, THOUGH, ISN'T IT, AFTER EVERYTHING THAT'S HAPPENED WITH AIG, THE PRESSURES ON THE BUSINESS?

GREENBERG: YEAH, BUT IT DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN THAT WAY. THERE WAS A MUCH BETTER STRATEGY. YOU KNOW, FIRST OF ALL, JUST A WEEK AGO, PAULSON SAID THAT AIG CAME IN WITHOUT A FEDERAL REGULATOR. IN FACT, HE WAS INTERVIEWED AT THAT TIME, AND OF COURSE, THERE WAS A FEDERAL REGULATOR, OFFICE OF THRIFT SUPERVISION. I GUESS SOMEBODY FORGOT TO TELL HIM THAT. AND SO, THE PLAN THEY CAME OUT WITH WAS VERY DRACONIAN.

QUICK: THE GOVERNMENT, YOU MEAN, UNDER THE GOVERNMENT PLAN.

GREENBERG: RIGHT. THEN THERE WAS PLAN B JUST A FEW WEEKS AFTER THAT. BUT STILL LEFT THE GOVERNMENT WITH 79.9% OWNERSHIP IN THE COMPANY. AND SO, ESSENTIALLY, IT WAS NATIONALIZED. AND, OF COURSE, YOU LOSE PEOPLE AND BUSINESS IN THAT SITUATION. YOU CAN'T PAY BACK THE GOVERNMENT, THE TAXPAYER, BY SELLING ASSETS IN THIS MARKET. IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. YOU'LL SELL THEM AT UNDER VALUE, AS WAS DONE WITH HSBC, AND NOT BEFORE -- AND NOT LONG BEFORE THAT, A JOINT VENTURE IN BRAZIL, WHICH WAS A TERRIFIC JOINT VENTURE, SOLD IT BACK TO UNIBANCO. THOSE KINDS OF ACTIONS ARE NOT GOING TO GET ENOUGH TO PAY BACK THE GOVERNMENT. IN THE MEANTIME, THE EMPLOYEES ARE LOOKING ELSEWHERE, AND RETENTION BONUSES ARE NOT GOING TO KEEP THE GOOD PEOPLE. THEY'RE LOSING -- THEY'RE BLEEDING PEOPLE AND BUSINESS. THE SOLUTION WOULD BE MUCH DIFFERENT. BUILD THE COMPANY BACK TO WHAT IT WAS AND SELL ASSETS AT A MUCH LATER DATE, NONSTRATEGIC ASSETS. I MEAN, THAT'S THE EASIEST THING TO DO, BUT YOU'VE GOT TO CHANGE THE DEAL.

QUICK: SO, YOUR POINT IS THIS IS A FORCED FIRE SALE, AND YOU BLAME THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE SETUP FOR THIS?

GREENBERG: WELL, WHO ELSE? WHO IMPOSED THE TERMS? LOOK, THE INSURANCE BUSINESSES AT AIG WERE UNIQUE, AND THE FRANCHISE IS UNIQUE. THERE ISN'T ANYTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD. IT WON'T BE THAT WAY MUCH LONGER. THERE WAS ONE ORGANIZATION WITHIN AIG THAT WAS THE PROBLEM. ALL THEY HAD TO DO, REALLY, WAS TO PROVIDE THE SAME KIND OF GUARANTEES THEY PROVIDED CITIBANK. BUT INSTEAD, WHAT THEY DID, THEY PASSED MONEY THROUGH AIG TO COUNTERPARTIES. WHO ARE THESE COUNTERPARTIES?

QUICK: I THOUGHT THE PROBLEM WITH THE FINANCIAL PRODUCTS POSITION -- WITH THE DIVISION THAT WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LOSSES, IT WAS SUCH A GREAT BLACK HOLE, THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT WANT THE COMPANY TO BE ABLE TO TAP THE INSURANCE COMPANIES, WHICH WERE VERY GOOD BUSINESSES, DIDN'T WANT THEM TO BE ABLE TO TAP THOSE BUSINESSES AND PUT INSURERS HOLDERS AT RISK, AND THAT'S WHY THEY CAME UP WITH THE SETUP THAT THEY FIRST CAME UP WITH ON THIS.

GREENBERG: YEAH, BUT BECKY, ALL THEY NEEDED WAS GUARANTEES. IT WAS COLLATERAL THEY HAD TO COME UP WITH. THE LOSSES ARE YET TO BE DETERMINED. THAT'S GOING TO BE SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE WITH COLLATERAL. SO, COLLATERAL COULD BE A FEDERAL GUARANTEE, WHICH IS WHAT THEY DID FOR CITI. THEY GUARANTEED $300 BILLION OF CITI.

QUICK: LET'S LISTEN. YOU MENTIONED THAT INTERVIEW WITH HANK PAULSON LAST WEEK. MARIA BARTIROMO SITTING DOWN WITH HIM. AND HE MADE SOME COMMENTS ABOUT EXACTLY THIS. LET'S LISTEN IN NOW. [video of Paulson interview]

[PAULSON: THE FED WAS ABLE TO MAKE A LOAN BECAUSE THEY WERE ABLE TO LOAN AGAINST THE UNDERLYING INSURANCE BUSINESSES. AND SO, THAT LOAN WAS PREDICATED UPON BEING ABLE TO LIQUIDATE, SELL OFF THOSE BUSINESSES TO PAY DOWN THE LOAN. SO, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT AND LOOK AT THE TERMS AND LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT WAS GOING TO BE A LIQUIDATION, THAT WAS OUR BEST JUDGMENT OF WHAT MADE SENSE AT THAT TIME.]

QUICK: MR. GREENBERG, HE POINTS OUT THAT THAT WAS HIS BEST JUDGMENT FOR WHAT MADE SENSE AT THAT TIME. HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO TREASURY OR ANYONE THERE ABOUT THE DEAL THAT WAS CUT WITH CITIGROUP AND WHY AIG GOT A DIFFERENT DEAL?

GREENBERG: NO. I TRIED REACHING PAULSON WHEN THIS BEGAN, UNSUCCESSFULLY AT THE TIME. BUT THEY'RE WRONG. I MEAN, AFTER ALL, IF THEY MADE A MISTAKE IN THE BEGINNING, THEY COULD CORRECT IT, YOU KNOW? IT'S NOT TOO LATE. THEY COULD CHANGE THE DEAL. IT'S NOT CAST IN STONE. AND SO, WHY DESTROY THE COMPANY? LOOK, WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE DOING, WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO HELP A COMPANY GET BACK ON ITS FEET, IT SHOULDN'T BE TRYING TO MAKE AS MUCH MONEY AS IT COULD. IT WANTS TO GET PAID BACK WHAT IT HAS ADVANCED THE COMPANY, PLUS A LITTLE BIT MORE. SO, THE COMPANY BECOMES A TAXPAYER AGAIN AND AN EMPLOYER. LIQUIDATING THE COMPANY DOESN'T HELP ANYTHING, AND I'M NOT SURE YOU'RE GOING TO GET PAID BACK ON THE PLAN THAT THEY HAVE.

CNBC'S JOE KERNAN: I THINK WHERE THE CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS WERE AT ISSUE HERE, AND MAYBE, THE GOVERNMENT COULD HAVE HELPED IF IT HAD GUARANTEED THEM, BUT WHERE THE COMPANY WENT ASTRAY, WHAT EVENTUALLY BROUGHT AIG TO ITS KNEES --

GREENBERG: LOOK, I WAS GONE FOR 3 1/2 YEARS, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY DID THERE.

KERNAN: WHEN WERE THE CDSs -- SO, IT WAS SULLIVAN THAT WAS RIDING HERD OVER THAT 300-MAN UNIT IN CONNECTICUT, IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TELLING ME? NONE OF THESE WERE PUT ON WHEN YOU WERE STILL WITH CDS?

GREENBERG: WELL, THERE WERE SOME PUT ON, BUT THEY WERE MINOR AMOUNTS. AND THEY WENT WILD IN THE NINE MONTHS AFTER I LEFT. THEY COULD HAVE HEDGED THE PORTFOLIO, BUT THEY DIDN'T.

KERNAN: WHEN YOU SAT DOWN, I SAID -- AND I'LL SHARE IT WITH OUR VIEWERS, BECAUSE I'M NOT AFRAID, BUT IF ELIOT SPITZER HAD NOT BEEN SO AGGRESSIVE IN HIS -- I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WITH AIG EXACTLY, BUT IF HE HAD BEEN, FOR EXAMPLE, LOOKING AT MADOFF INSTEAD. AND IF YOU WERE STILL AT AIG, DO YOU THINK HE WOULD HAVE PREVENTED THE CDS INCIDENT FROM HAPPENING?

GREENBERG: ABSOLUTELY. LOOK, WE HAD A VERY GOOD RISK MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT, BOTH CREDIT RISK AND MARKET RISK. WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM AFTER I LEFT, I HAVE NO IDEA. BUT WE WERE AHEAD OF THE INDUSTRY IN THAT. WE HAD A VERY, VERY GOOD BOTH RISK AND MARKETING --

KERNAN: YOU'RE SAYING HE WOULD HAVE CAUGHT MADOFF AND AIG WOULD STILL BE AT $70?

GREENBERG: I WOULD HOPE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN.

[GUEST] DENNIS GARTMAN: HE MAKES A GOOD POINT. AFTER HE LEFT, THE ASCENT OF FINANCIAL PRODUCTS LOOKED LIKE CRUDE OIL GOING IN LAST SUMMER. IT WENT ABSOLUTELY PARABOLIC IN THE MONTHS AFTER HE WAS GONE, AND THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM.

QUICK: IS THAT AN ARGUMENT, THOUGH, FOR A NEED FOR REGULATION OF THE CDS MARKET?

GREENBERG: YEAH. I'M NOT OPPOSED TO REGULATION OF IT. I'M REALLY NOT. YOU KNOW, THE THRIFT INSTITUTION WAS UP THERE ALL THE TIME. THEY'RE UP IN AIG. EVERY ORGANIZATION AS LARGE AS AIG HAD TO HAVE A REGULATOR.

GARTMAN: IN HOUSE, PROBABLY. ALMOST PERMANENTLY.

GREENBERG: PRACTICALLY.

KERNAN: WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF LIDDY'S -- WE HAD HIM ON YESTERDAY, AND HE'S TALKED TO YOU BUT HASN'T REALLY ASKED YOUR ADVICE. HE MAKES SOME COMMENTS THAT THE ORGANIZATION IS DIFFERENT NOW BECAUSE OF THE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION AND TRANSPARENCY AND IT COULDN'T BE RUN THE WAY THAT YOU RAN IT. BUT WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF HIS EFFORTS AT THIS POINT, WORKING WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS GIVEN HIM?

GREENBERG: LOOK, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, LIDDY WAS ON THE GOLDMAN BOARD, OKAY? SO, HE WAS A CHOICE OF PAULSON. HE RAN ALLSTATE, WHICH IS AN AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY IN THE UNITED STATES. THAT HARDLY EQUIPS YOU TO RUN A GLOBAL COMPANY LIKE AIG. I MEAN, I'VE KNOWN LIDDY FOR MANY YEARS. IN FACT, HE TRIED TO PEDDLE ALLSTATE TO ME AT SOME POINT. IT'S NOT THE SAME. YOU'VE GOT TO BE -- TO RUN AIG, A GLOBAL -- ANY GLOBAL COMPANY -- YOU HAVE TO HAVE DIFFERENT TALENTS, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE PRODUCTS THAT THEY'RE MARKETING, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE COUNTRIES THAT THEY DO BUSINESS IN, YOU HAVE TO BE AN INTERNATIONALIST.

KERNAN: BUT HE'S HERE TO DO WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS ASKING HIM TO DO.

GREENBERG: HE'S A LIQUIDATOR.

KERNAN: HE'S HERE TO LIQUIDATE. SO HE HAS TO WORK WITHIN IN FRAMEWORK. YOU WOULD SAY THAT THE RETENTION BONUSES ARE NOT NECESSARY TO KEEP -- IF YOU ARE GOING TO SELL THESE COMPANIES, DON'T YOU NEED TO RETAIN THE GOOD PEOPLE?

GREENBERG: WELL, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO RETAIN THE GOOD PEOPLE.

QUICK: YEAH, THEY'RE NOT SUFFICIENT, IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE SAYING?

GREENBERG: WHAT I'M SAYING TO YOU, IF THEY KNOW THE COMPANY IS BEING BROKEN UP AND SOLD, THEY'RE GOING TO BE PICKED OFF, AS THEY HAVE BEEN, BY COMPETITORS.

KERNAN: SO DON'T EVEN BOTHER WITH THE RETENTION BONUSES, LET THEM LEAVE?

GREENBERG: YOU'LL KEEP SOME SECOND-RATE DOWN THE LINE PEOPLE, BUT WHAT'S THE FUTURE IN A COMPANY THAT THEY'RE SAYING WE'RE GOING TO BE SELLING OFF ALL THE PIECES?

QUICK: HANK IS THERE SOMEBODY WHO COULD RUN THE COMPANY THE WAY YOU ENVISION IT RIGHT NOW?

GREENBERG: OF COURSE, THERE'S GOT TO BE SOMEBODY OUT THERE. HAVE A SEARCH COMMITTEE AND LOOK AT THE QUALIFICATIONS THAT YOU NEED. YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. OF COURSE, IT CAN BE DONE. THE ONLY WAY TO PAY BACK THE GOVERNMENT, THE TAXPAYER, IS TO BUILD THE COMPANY, CHANGE THE TERMS TO EQUIVALENT TO CITIGROUP TERMS, AND WITHIN A FEW YEARS, YOU'LL PAY THE GOVERNMENT BACK. EXTEND THE TERM. YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY IT BACK --

KERNAN: IS IT TOO LATE? IS IT 150 OR 160 OR WHATEVER --

GREENBERG: IT'S NOT THAT MUCH. FIRST OF ALL, THEY HAVE COMMERCIAL PAPER. EVERYBODY'S GOT COMMERCIAL PAPER BECAUSE THERE IS NO MARKET FOR COMMERCIAL PAPER. THERE'S $60 BILLION AND THERE'S A $40 BILLION PREFERRED STOCK. AND THEN THEY DID THIS DEAL WHICH TOOK THE CDOs OFF -- $70 BILLION OFF AIG'S BOOKS. AIG WROTE DOWN THE CDOs TO MATCH ESSENTIALLY WHAT THE CDOs OF THE COUNTERPARTIES WERE, GAVE THE COUNTERPARTIES $35 BILLION, OKAY? THEN THEY BOUGHT THAT. SO, COUNTERPARTIES GOT TAKEN OUT AT PAR. I MEAN, WHO WOULD BELIEVE YOU GET TAKEN OUT AT PAR? I MEAN, IT'S HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE THAT. NOW, THAT WILL RUN OFF OVER TIME, WHAT THEY BOUGHT, AT A SIGNIFICANT, I BELIEVE, POSITIVE NUMBER. AND THE GOVERNMENT GETS 66 AND TWO THIRDS OF IT AND AIG A THIRD. I MEAN, THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE WHOLE PROGRAM.

QUICK: YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS MASSIVE POLITICAL PRESSURE FROM PEOPLE WHO SAY, LOOK, AIG GOT ITSELF INTO THIS TROUBLE IT SHOULDN'T BE TAXPAYER DOLLARS THAT WAS EVER THERE TO BAIL THEM OUT TO BEGIN WITH, AND IF THE DOLLARS WERE USED, THEN THERE NEEDS TO BE DRACONIAN PRESSURE THAT COMES WITH IT. WHAT DO YOU SAY BACK TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SAYING THE GOVERNMENT MONEY SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN SPENT. NOW THAT IT'S THERE, WE WANT A POUND OF FLESH?

GREENBERG: WELL, I DON'T THINK THAT MAKES ANY SENSE. IF YOU'RE GOING TO TRY AND AID A COMPANY THROUGH A TOUGH PERIOD, AS THEY HAVE CITIGROUP AND OTHER BANKS, AND THIS IS THE ONLY AMERICAN COMPANY OPERATING GLOBALLY, INSURANCE COMPANY, THE ONLY ONE -- IT IS A NATIONAL, HAS NATIONAL VALUE -- AND SO, IF YOU CAN'T SAVE THE COMPANY AND RETAIN BEING A TAXPAYER AND AN EMPLOYER, ISN'T THAT THE RIGHT ANSWER?

KERNAN: HANK, THE WAY YOU RAN AIG, AND IT WAS AN ENTREPRENEURIAL PLACE, AND YOU KNOW, YOUR FANS WOULD SAY THAT YOU'RE A FINANCIAL GENIUS. OTHER PEOPLE WOULD SAY THAT YOU ACTUALLY MANAGED EARNINGS, MANAGED THE BUSINESS IN AN AGGRESSIVE WAY. COULD YOU DO IT TODAY GIVEN --

GREENBERG: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE WERE EXAMINED BY ALMOST EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD, INCLUDING PWC. EARNINGS WEREN'T MANAGED. WE NEVER HAD A QUALIFIED AUDIT --

KERNAN: HAD THE BLACK BOX CONNOTATION -- SORT OF THAT FOLLOWED IT ALONG, RIGHT?

GREENBERG: I THINK THAT'S AN EXAGGERATION JOE.

KERNAN: COULD YOU RUN -- IS THAT ERA GONE AS FAR AS LIDDY SORT OF INTIMATES IN THE FT?

GREENBERG: NO, WHAT HE'S SAYING IN THE FT IS THAT YOU NEEDED MORE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND DISCLOSURES. WELL, THEY DID THAT AFTER I LEFT. THAT WAS REALLY SUCCESSFUL, WASN'T IT? THE COMPANY COLLAPSED. I MEAN -- IT WAS TERRIFIC STRATEGY.

KERNAN: WE ARE MORE REGULATED. DO YOU THINK THAT THE CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP MARKET SHOULD BE REGULATED, SHOULD BE ON AN EXCHANGE, SHOULD BE A CENTRALIZED --

GREENBERG: YEAH, I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT.

KERNAN: SO, IT SHOULD BE DONE?

GREENBERG: YEAH, I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT.

QUICK: WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WERE RUNNING IT AFTER YOU LEFT?

GREENBERG: I THINK NOBODY WAS OVERSEEING IT. I THINK THEY GOT GREEDY. THEY FAILED TO HEDGE. WHAT HAPPENED TO RISK MANAGEMENT? I DON'T KNOW. WE HAD TREMENDOUS RISK MANAGEMENT BOTH IN CREDIT AND IN MARKET. WE WERE THE FIRST ONES IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY TO HAVE THOSE KINDS OF RISK ORGANIZATIONS. SO, I CAN'T ANSWER WHAT HAPPENED AFTER I LEFT.

QUICK: BUT YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN IT RAMPING UP?

GREENBERG: THEY WERE MORE FOCUSED ON CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND SO-CALLED TRANSPARENCY. THAT REALLY HELPED THEM.

QUICK: RIGHT. AND SO, YOU'RE SAYING, THOUGH, YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN IT AS THEY WERE RAMPING UP THE RISK AND YOU WOULD HAVE STOPPED IT?

GREENBERG: LISTEN, WE HAD SO MANY CONTROLS, OF COURSE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED.

QUICK: IF YOU HAD ONE MESSAGE, BACK TO THE GOVERNMENT AGAIN, I KNOW YOU SAID YOU TRIED TO REACH OUT TO TREASURY AND HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO SIT DOWN AND TELL THEM THIS. IF YOU HAD ONE MESSAGE WHAT WOULD IT BE?

GREENBERG: SAVE AIG. IT'S THE BEST WAY TO PAY BACK THE TAXPAYER. AIG SHOULD BE REBUILT, NOT DESTROYED.

KERNAN: AND I DON'T KNOW IF I WANT YOU TO GO HERE, BUT I LIKE ALLUSION YOU MADE. SO PAULSON'S FROM GOLDMAN, HE HAD LIDDY ON THE BOARD OF GOLDMAN. DO YOU THINK THAT GOLDMAN HAS AN UNDUE INFLUENCE OVER THE POLICIES OF THE TREASURY AT THIS POINT?

GREENBERG: [laughs] GEE, I DON'T KNOW.

KERNAN: [laughs] REALLY? YOU REALLY DON'T KNOW? IS THAT A YES?

GREENBERG: I THINK IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO KNOW COUNTERPARTIES WERE.

QUICK: THE COUNTERPARTIES THAT GOT MADE WHOLE, ON PAR WITH --

GREENBERG: YEAH. I THINK MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ARE GOING TO INQUIRE ABOUT THAT.

QUICK: DO YOU KNOW WHO THE COUNTERPARTIES WERE?

GREENBERG: I DON'T KNOW. I'VE BEEN GONE FOR 3 1/2 YEARS.

KERNAN: INTERESTING, NONETHELESS.

QUICK: ALL RIGHT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY. WE APPRECIATE IT.

GREENBERG: GOOD TO BE WITH YOU.

QUICK: AGAIN, HANK GREENBERG




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