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AIG's Aircraft Leasing Sale Threatened

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- American International Group (AIG - Get Report) may be forced to consider other options to sell a majority stake of its aircraft leasing subsidiary.

AIG on Friday said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it hadn't received a 10% deposit by a May 30 deadline, as required under a December agreement to sell a majority stake in International Lease Financial Corporation (ILFC) to an investor group led by New China Trust.

AIG on Dec. 7 announced a deal to sell up to 90% of ILFC to the investor group, in a deal valuing the aircraft leasing unit at $5.28 billion. New China Trust and its investor partners agreed to purchase a stake of at least 80.1% of ILFC for $4.23 billion. An escrow deposit of 10%, or roughly $20 million, was due on Thursday and not received.

Under the terms of the agreement, AIG has the right to cancel the sale agreement, however, the company has not done so. An AIG spokesman declined to comment.

AIG's shares were down over 2% to $45.19 in afternoon trading.

"Based on our brief discussion with [management], we understand AIG has in fact been in contact with the buyer group, but beyond that we do not know in which direction things are headed," wrote Sterne Agee analyst John Nagel in a note to clients on Friday.

During the company's earning conference call on May 3, AIG CEO Robert Benmosche said "the ILFC divestiture continues through the regulatory approval process as expected. Upon closing, the net proceeds that we receive on that transaction will be unencumbered at the holding company," according to a transcript provided by Thomson Reuters.

While discussing possible capital deployment through share buybacks during the call, AIG CFO David Herzog said "the unencumbered proceeds from ILFC... will be available at the holding company for consideration."

Nagel wrote "assuming the buyer makes the escrow deposit and the deal remains on track, today's announcement likely serves as nothing more than a short-term buying opportunity in the stock (all else equal)."

But if AIG decides to look for another way to divest ILFC, which Benmosche calls a "non-core asset," investors may not see the capital return they expect from AIG this year.
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