American International Group Inc. (AIG) - Get American International Group, Inc. Report , the insurer that gained notoriety after a $182 billion bailout during the financial crisis, has finally extricated itself from the heightened government scrutiny it was subjected to afterward.
The Financial Stability Oversight Council, chaired by President Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, agreed on Friday, Sept. 29, to lift the New York-based firm's designation as a systemically important financial institution. The label, developed as the government set up safeguards to prevent a repeat of the 2008 crisis, was applied to companies large enough that their failure could imperil the U.S. economy.
The council didn't specify the reasons for its decision, which was made on a 6-3 vote and announced early Friday evening. AIG has, however, paid back the government's investment, pared the assets on its balance sheet by 52% from $1.05 trillion the year before the crisis and sold a number of businesses amid pressure from activist Carl Icahn.
"The council's decision reflects the substantial and successful de-risking that AIG's employees have achieved since 2008," said Brian Duperreault, the insurance veteran appointed CEO in May. "The company is committed to continued vigilant risk management."
The determination was supported by Mnuchin, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika, Commodities Futures Trading Commission Chairman Christopher Giancarlo, National Credit Union Administration Chairman Mark McWatters and independent member Roy Woodall.
Following the announcement, AIG climbed to 1.4% to $62.23 in after-hours trading in New York.
"The council has worked diligently to thoroughly reevaluate whether AIG poses a risk to financial stability," Mnuchin said in a statement, noting that the group was required to reevaluate its designations at least once a year. "This action demonstrates our commitment to act decisively to remove any designation if a company does not pose a threat to financial stability."
A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employee, Mnuchin has worked with the president to loosen post-crisis regulations that Trump argues have curbed economic growth because they were overly restrictive.
But Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who championed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and fought for stronger oversight of Wall Street, said loosening the restrictions on AIG is a step backward.
"This decision shows once again that the Trump administration cares more about rewarding Wall Street executives than protecting Americans from another financial crisis," she said in a statement. "AIG got a $180 billion taxpayer bailout less than a decade ago, and without proper oversight, it will remain a huge and interconnected company that could bring down the financial system again."
The removal of AIG's "systemically important" designation leaves only one non-bank company operating under the stricter post-crisis rules, Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU) - Get Prudential Financial, Inc. Report
General Electric Co. (GE) - Get General Electric Company (GE) Report , which previously carried the SIFI label, convinced the council to remove it in 2016 after former CEO Jeffrey Immelt decided to sell most of the conglomerate's once-sprawling lending unit. In the process, GE Capital trimmed its issuance of commercial paper by 88%, from $43 billion to $5 billion, taking it from the top U.S. issuer of such short-term securities to less than a tenth of 1% of the market.
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