NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- American International Group ( AIG) is in talks with its government overseers to speed up an exit plan designed to repay U.S. taxpayers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Under the plan, which could begin as early as the first half of 2011, the Treasury Department is likely to convert $49 billion in AIG preferred shares it holds into common shares, bringing the government's stake in AIG to above 90%, from 79.8% currently, the Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The common shares would then be sold to private investors, a move that would reduce government ownership.

The Treasury Department's successful exit from AIG would take several years and is far from certain, depending on such things as market conditions.

Two years ago this week, the Journal notes, the U.S. government rescued AIG from near collapse, and more than $120 billion of taxpayer support is still outstanding, including loans from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and $49 billion AIG received from the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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