As far as external candidates go, some industry watchers suggested another restructuring guru, Paula Rosput Reynolds. She was in charge of restructuring at AIG through last summer, under former CEO Ed Liddy. She was considered a top contender for the CEO role when Liddy decided to depart. But when Benmosche was selected instead, Reynolds left AIG, too, to become CEO of Seattle-based business advisory group Preferwest. She's also a director at Delta (DAL) and Anadarko (APC).
It's unclear whether AIG's board or the Treasury Department would favor a departed executive, though Reynolds was widely seen as successful in her short tenure at the company.
John DesPrez, former chief operating officer of Manulife was also suggested as a potential candidate. DesPrez spent years running the Canadian insurer's U.S. insurance division, called John Hancock, but departed earlier this year when he was passed over for the top job. Henning Schulte-Noelle, the longtime CEO of Munich-based insurer Allianz (AZ), was also suggested. He now serves in a role on the board, having retired as CEO a few years ago.
Other names floated include less likely candidates Jay Fishman, who is now CEO of The Travelers Companies (TRV) - a one-time insurance division of Citigroup (C); Allstate (ALL) CEO Thomas Wilson; and MetLife (MET) CEO C. Robert Henrikson. But there's no sign that any of those top executives are eager to leave their current roles to join AIG.In its statement, the board said it's reviewing selection criteria for a permanent replacement in 2012 and "will continue to discuss succession planning." It plans to evaluate internal and external candidates alike. Eli Lehrer, national director of the Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate at a think-tank called The Heartland Institute, believes the company is likely to go with an internal candidate. "AIG is probably going to pick its next CEO on the basis of what kind of company it wants to be, and what kind of company the board and the government wants it to be," says Lehrer, who cautioned that he doesn't have direct knowledge about the board's thinking. "AIG tried to do virtually everything in the insurance business, except health insurance previously. It's not going to continue as that kind of business, so the choice for a CEO will probably in part reflect what vision the board has for the company." -- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.
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