Troubled insurer finally hires former MetLife boss Benmosche to deliver best value to shareholders

AIG has recruited Robert Benmosche, formerly head of MetLife, to succeed Ed Liddy as chief executive from Monday.

His appointment comes as former chairman Hank Greenberg hits out at the US government for being “foolish” over its strategy to oversee a fire sale of AIG business units.

An appointment had been expected since May when Liddy stepped down from the insurer, which owes $180bn (£106bn) to the US government.

Benmosche said his aim would be to maximise the value of the company’s assets and to meet all its stakeholder obligations.

Greenberg said the terms imposed on AIG by the Federal Reserve had been draconian and needed to be renegotiated, however.

Speaking to Insurance Times’s sister magazine Global Reinsurance, he said: “It’s wrong that the strategy of paying back the taxpayer can be achieved by selling off units of AIG.”

He added that AIG should be rebuilt so that it could pay back the $70bn it owes the US taxpayer following its bailout by the Federal Reserve. “It’s foolish to sell off assets that were making money because you have nothing to offset the tax-loss carry forwards,” he explained. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Greenberg, who was chairman and chief executive between 1968 and 2005, said the demise of AIG should never have happened.

“It is a tragedy. In retrospect, you have to look at the political situation and see what brought about the destruction of a great company. I believe that if the Attorney General hadn’t been there, none of this would have happened.”

Greenberg also absolved himself from any responsibility. “Obviously I feel terrible about it … but there’s nothing I could do. The credit default book exploded after I left.”

He said that the default book was in place before he left, but that it was manageable and not connected to subprime losses.

“It had a very good risk management department and it looked at everything company-wide,” he explained. “I haven’t heard a word about them. Where were they when all this happened. How did they let this occur?”