Former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg, who spent 40 years turning the company into a behemoth before stepping down amid accusations of accounting fraud and inflating the firm’s earnings, is back in the insurance game. Greenberg’s new venture, C.V. Starr & Company, is preparing to overtake his former company as insurance giant of the world. It’s “A.I.G. Two,” says one rival insurance executive who has watched Greenberg bring former employees over to his new company and drown them in cash. It helps that C.V. Starr doesn’t have the pay restrictions AIG has.
This is clearly bad news for AIG as it tries to regain its footing. With Greenberg stealing employees, business will soon follow and AIG’s ability to repay its debt to the government will be severely hampered. Greenberg has $4.3 billion in AIG stock at his disposal to build this new company and he’s already started throwing it around, leasing 141,000 square feet of former Lehman Brothers office space on Park Avenue.
The scary part about Greenberg’s new business is that it’s going to be just like AIG (selling business insurance, structured as a group of companies), with the same man in charge who started the company down the road to ruin. The silver lining: We’ve got 40 years until this one blows up.