By Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 3, 2009 7:09 PM
Benmosche takes over next Monday from departing chief executive Edward M. Liddy, who was appointed to the position after the government bailed out the troubled insurer in September.
"Our stakeholders can look forward to a seamless transition and rest assured that the work of rebuilding the value of AIG's businesses and repaying the government will continue uninterrupted," Liddy said in a statement.
Benmosche, 65, spent eight years at the helm of MetLife. During his tenure, he led the transition of the insurer from a mutual company to a public company in 2000.
When he retired in 2006, he told The New York Times that he was looking to reinvent himself. "I'm thinking about buying land, growing a vineyard and buying a small hotel, maybe a commercial store," he said. He eventually bought a sprawling home overlooking the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.
Three years later, Benmosche is headed back to the insurance industry to a job that hasn't been kind to his predecessors.
For Liddy, a former chairman of Allstate and former director of Goldman Sachs, the time in the job has been marked by one crisis after another.
Since September, the government's total commitment to the company has more than doubled, to $182 billion. Liddy struggled in his initial plan to pay back AIG's debt to the government by selling off the company's worldwide operating units. In early March, AIG reported a $62 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2008 -- the largest loss by any company in U.S. history.
Liddy became a public punching bag weeks later over millions of dollars in retention bonuses paid to workers at AIG Financial Products, the unit whose faulty derivative contracts had wrecked the company.
In May, Liddy announced his intention to step down as chairman and chief executive and recommended that AIG separate the two positions.
Benmosche, who also will join AIG's board of directors, holds a degree in mathematics from Alfred University in New York and served in the U.S. Army.
Benmosche said that Liddy and others "have done a terrific job stabilizing AIG and implementing a strategy to repay the company's stakeholders, including taxpayers. Now he has passed the baton to me, and I look forward to continuing the race."
AIG on Monday also announced that Paula Reynolds, a Seattle executive hired by Liddy to manage the sale of AIG's global insurance operations, would step down as chief restructuring officer later this year.