The poll of more than 100 investors points to dissatisfaction with AIG management and some sympathy for activists

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A small minority of shareholders back AIG’s present strategy, according to a poll by investment management and research firm Bernstein.

The poll of more than 100 investors has criticised the AIG management and has expressed some sympathy for activists Carl Icahn and John Paulson, the powerful financiers who are pushing for a break-up of the group.

The Bernstein study comes just two weeks before AIG president and chief executive Peter Hancock will present the insurer’s strategic vision to shareholders on 26 January.

On 26 January Hancock will update investors on AIG’s plans to “accelerate its previously announced strategy”. AIG said it will provide a “proactive plan to drive shareholder value”.

Bernstein, which is majority owned by AXA Group, said the survey sample was “statistically credible” and represented owners of more than a third of AIG’s shares, the Financial Times reports.

“The CEO is not the right guy to lead the company,” said one of AIG’s largest 30 shareholders in the anonymised survey. “He is a risk manager not an insurance man.”

Another said: “Current management must aggressively move to maximise value … or needs to be replaced.”

Asked how they would cast their ballot if a shareholder vote was held today, only 9% cent said they would back directors who were pursuing AIG’s current strategy, “perhaps with some modest acceleration of cost-cutting and small divestitures”.

About a third would back activist directors who were planning to implement Mr Icahn’s strategy, which includes splitting AIG into three companies.