AIG won’t join suit against government, order restored to universe

Common sense 1, jaw-dropping chutzpah, 0.

The AIG board met Wednesday to hear arguments over whether the giant insurer should join a controversial lawsuit against the government alleging that its 2008 bailout of the firm unfairly punished shareholders. Surely fearing a public relations blowback, it has elected not to join an effort launched by Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, a former chief executive of the company and major shareholder.

If anything, the public outcry to disclosure that it would even consider suing the government for the unfavorable terms of its bailout--several lawmakers weighed in, aghast that the board would even consider such a move--may have made the board's choice even more stark. That is particularly true given that it recently launched an entire publicity campaign around the idea of "Thank you, America," full of patriotic themes and proud assertions of the fact that the insurer has now returned all its bailout money to the Treasury at a profit to taxpayers. Trying to get some of that money back would surely have undermined the campaign.

The other result of AIG's decision not to join the lawsuit: Greenberg is now on his own in what may be a quixotic pursuit.

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Sarah Kliff · January 9, 2013

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