"The other solvent players in the industry are experiencing not the same kind of problems as AIG, but problems that are straining their capital base," says Adam Sherman, president of Firstrust Financial Resources. "So, those once-healthy suitors of AIG's businesses -- the Chubbs (CB) of the world, the Fireman's Funds, the AXAs (AXA) and the Prudentials (PRU) -- are all dealing with their own capital issues and they can't pay the dollar amount that AIG would find acceptable."
Sherman has been involved in the insurance business for over 15 years, and works with all the major firms to analyze product offerings for Firstrust clients. He says that while AIG wanted $4 billion for its American General unit, it only received bids in the $1 million range. CEOs of other large firms are performing due diligence for the assets AIG is shopping around, but "I don't think anybody feels comfortable buying something of that magnitude at this time, when the entire industry's [credit rating] has been downgraded," Sherman says.
Furthermore, buyers -- well aware of AIG's desperate situation -- are holding all the bargaining chips.
"You know that your neighbor has got to sell his or her car," says David Steuber, co-chair of the Insurance Recovery practice at Howrey LLP. "It's sitting there and you know that they absolutely positively have to sell that car. What are you going to do? You're going to hold on and wait and wait and wait until you get the lowest possible price."
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