No question about it -- AIG is BIG. Based in the US but with operations reaching around the globe, American International Group (AIG) is one of the world's largest insurance firms. Its subsidiaries provide general property/casualty insurance, life insurance and retirement services, and financial services to some 90 million commercial, institutional, and individual customers in more than 130 countries around the world. Commercial property/casualty products account for 40% of the group's revenue. Best Buy, HP, and Nortek are among AIG's customers. The company traces its roots to 1919, when Cornelius Vander Starr established American Asiatic Underwriters in Shanghai.
AIG operates through two reportable segments: Commercial Insurance (property/casualty, mortgage guaranty, and institutional markets) and Consumer Insurance (retirement, life, and personal insurance), as well as its Corporate and Other segment. The Commercial and Consumer Insurance segments each accounted for about 50% of AIG's revenues in 2015.
Property/casualty coverage includes workers' compensation, home, auto, travel, accident, and specialty insurance policies. Property/casualty policies are sold to commercial and individual clients in the US and around the world and have continued to be a solid source of growth for AIG, even during years of financial strife.
Domestic life insurance and retirement services businesses include VALIC, American General Life, and The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York. The group also offers single and flexible premium deferred fixed annuities and single premium immediate and delayed-income annuities and variable annuities and other income products.
AIG companies serves more than 90 million customers, which includes commercial, institutional, and individual customers.
AIG and its subsidiaries have approximately 350 offices in the US, as well as 500 offices in 75 international countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia/Pacific region. About 75% of AIG's annual revenues come from sales in the domestic market.
The company organizes its operations into three major geographic regions: Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).
Sales and Marketing
The company markets its retail products directly to individual consumers through independent and career insurance agents, retail banks, direct-to-consumer platforms, and national, regional, and independent broker-dealers.
The group distributes its products every way possible -- from specialty brokers, independent agents, financial advisors, banks, direct to the consumer, and through affinity groups. AIG maintains direct sales groups consisting of representatives affiliated with its VALIC and American General subsidiaries.
Mortgage guaranty products are marketed to a variety of mortgage originators and through mortgage lenders, finance agencies, and credit unions. Institutional market products are primarily sold through specialized marketing and consulting firms and structured settlement brokers.
AIG customers include Best Buy, HP, Dell, Whirlpool, and LG.
Revenue has been up and down at AIG for the past few years. It decreased 9% to $58.3 billion due to declines in investment earnings related to alternative investments such as hedge funds. Premiums also dropped due to unfavorable effects of foreign currency exchange rates. Finally, net unrealized gains in its available for sale portfolio fell to $8.8 billion (versus $19 billion in 2014).
Net income has been even more turbulent for the company. (For example, it fell 80% in 2012 due to weather event-related losses, litigation expenses, and credit facility charges.) In 2015 net income fell 71% to $2.2 billion; this decline was driven by lower revenue that year plus increased expenses and policyholder benefits and net losses on sales of divested businesses. Cash flow from operations fell 43% to $2.9 billion in 2015.
The company has divested nearly all of its non-insurance operations. In 2014 it sold aircraft leasing business International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) to AerCap Ireland Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of AerCap, for $7.6 billion. And in early 2016, AIG sold broker-dealer unit AIG Advisory Group to a group of investors (Lightyear Capital and PSP Investments). Early the following year, the group sold mortgage insurance unit United Guaranty Corporation to Arch Capital for $3.4 billion.
These divestitures fall short of the major breakup for which some shareholders are pushing. As it is dubbed a systemically important financial institution (SIFI), AIG is subject to increased scrutiny by regulators. Other non-bank SIFI's have been downsizing, refocusing on core operations and removing themselves from the heightened oversight. However, AIG has thus far resisted pressure to undergo a major split.
As it wraps up reorganization efforts, AIG is beginning to move towards growth through organic measures, including the launch of new product offerings and distribution channels in its core operating segments. For example, in 2014 its American General Life Insurance unit partnered with Market Synergy Group to offer enhanced index annuity solutions. Also that year, AIG expanded its excess casualty liability limits for Class 1 railroads in the US and Canada to $1 billion per incident.
The company's primary goals include growth of assets under management, increasing life insurance in-force, and enhancing return on equity by simplifying the legal entity structure and improving operational efficiencies. For the Commercial Insurance segment, AIG is focused on improving its business portfolio by using enhanced data and analytics to provide better pricing and underwriting.
Other key strategic efforts include leveraging its extensive distribution organization of more than 300,000 financial professionals, expanding its relationships with key distribution partners, and adopting a more customer-centric approach.
AIG is also focused on expansion in the Chinese-American market. It has been recruiting several hundreds of life insurance agents to address the needs of that community.
In 2016, AIG agreed to sell its local operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Turkey, as well as the renewal rights for the local business written by its Central and Eastern European operations, to Fairfax Financial Holdings for some $240 million. AIG plans to work with Fairfax to support its multinational customers operating in these countries. The company then agreed to sell its Japan life insurance business to Pacific Century Group's insurance unit FWD Group. It will continue to offer property/casualty coverage in Japan.
Mergers and Acquisitions
With its all but reorganization complete, AIG has once again begun building up operations through acquisitions. In 2015 the company bought the UK-based Ageas Protect Limited from Belgian insurer Ageas Group for some €250 million. The newly acquired unit became part of AIG's Global Consumer business, which offers personal accident, health, and travel coverage, as well as customized insurance plans for wealthy individuals.
Also that year, AIG bought Laya Healthcare, the second-largest health insurer in Ireland, for an undisclosed amount. Laya Healthcare became part of AIG's Health business.
In 2015 the company acquired managing general agent and administrator NSM Insurance Group for an undisclosed price. The following year, AIG agreed to sell a controlling stake in NSM to investment firm ABRY Partners. AIG and ABRY will work jointly to expand NSM's platform.
AIG held the spotlight for staggering losses and government bailouts during the Great Recession. In exchange for $161.3 billion in bailouts, at one point the US government held more than 90% of the company. An exit plan of repayments and stock sales gradually shrunk that number. By 2013 the US Treasury sold all of its AIG shares.
Having crawled its way back from the edge of an abyss, AIG streamlined operations and was rewarded with nice black ink on its ledgers. After selling off piles of non-core businesses and quietly disposing of some riskier operations, the company in late 2014 completed its reorganization.