Benmosche: A Study in Staying On-Message

Robert Benmosche
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Robert Benmosche

American International Group chief Bob Benmosche said many things in our interview Tuesday, but one message rang out loud and clear: that the average U.S. citizen's ability to make money on its investment in the insurer is crucial.

Staying remarkably faithful to this storyline, Benmosche said of AIG's recent $9 billion re-IPO—in which the Treasury sold off the first of many slugs of stock it now owns as the result of bailing the insurer out during the 2008 financial crisis—"we have a commitment at AIG that we will pay back the American taxpayer everything that they provided us through TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program], plus a profit."

He then reiterated the notion 11 more times during the 20-minute interview—a total of 14 mentions altogether.

From the transcript.

1."And we expect them to make—a profit.

2. "And that doesn't include the almost $5 billion of profit the federal reserve could make—for their intervention as well and that $5 billion could grow over time as well."

3. "But we have a commitment at AIG that we will pay back the American taxpayer everything that they provided us through TARP plus a profit."

4. "And therefore from day one if the Street couldn't deliver the investment proposition we have at—at a profit we would have pulled the transaction and waited until it was clear from our earnings and our reserves and so on that we were worth at least $29 a share."

5. "If we did not get the interest that we got and were able to sell—the shares for a profit for the American taxpayer we would not have gone forward."

6. "And so we are absolutely committed as is the U.S. Treasury to make sure the American taxpayer from day one will be paid back every penny that AIG received and hopefully will continue to provide a profit to American taxpayer for the TARP part."

7. "And you're also, as I said, gonna have a profit from the Federal Reserve part, as well."

8. "It's important that AIG pay back the American taxpayer plus a profit.

9. "And my feeling was that I didn't want to just eke out a profit."

10. "And I'm responsible to them and to the American public to make sure they get paid back day one and every day going forward what they're owed plus a profit."

11. "And now what we've got to do is make sure we operate this company really well so that there is no doubt the American taxpayer will be able to share their shares to the U.S. Treasury and continually sell 'em for a profit."

12. "This is a chance to make sure they sell so they get the money back to the taxpayer plus a profit."

13. "It's making sure there's a profit for the taxpayer, that's all that's essential for the Treasury to get out."

14. "Day one they're getting back their money plus a profit and you'll see that trend continue as they sell out all their shares."

  • Video: Click Here to See Benmosche's interview


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