Enough Whining, AIG Deal Was a Winner: Street Whispers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Four years on, the U.S. government still owns more than half of American International Group ( AIG), and that's a good thing.

Four years after bailing out the insurer to a degree that far surpassed any of the bank beneficiaries of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, the U.S. Treasury said on Monday that after completing a $5 billion offering of government government-held shares of AIG on Friday, the overallotment on the offering was exercised, leaving the Treasury expecting its proceeds from the offering to increase "to approximately $5.75 billion and the total number of shares sold in the offering to approximately 188.5 million."

The Treasury said that following the offering -- with AIG purchasing about $3 billion worth of the shares -- the government would be left holding roughly 53% of the company's common shares, worth about $24.2 billion.

While there are many media voices disgusted by the bailout, a "glass half full" approach shows just how far the company has come since the Treasury and the Federal Reserve forked over $182 billion to save the company in 2008.

The Treasury said that "in addition to principal repayments, which have reduced the government's remaining outstanding investment to $24.2 billion, the Federal Reserve and Treasury have also received additional income beyond that from interest, fees, and other gains. That additional income beyond principal repayments totals $14 billion, including approximately $13 billion from the Federal Reserve's investment and approximately $1 billion from Treasury's investment.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York was repaid in full, as part of the deal that converted the Treasury's investment in AIG to common shares in January 2011.

Even though the Government's remaining stake in AIG is large by any standard, the stake represents only 13% of the total assistance provided to the insurer, and Uncle Sam's shares keep rising in value.

The government's process in completing its disengagement from AIG is a slow one, and for good reason. By selling the shares in an orderly fashion -- with AIG repurchasing most of them -- the company's shareholders are not facing the market disruption that would come if the Treasury had decided to dump huge lots of shares straight into the open market. Each time the government conducts a similar offering, the number of outstanding shares declines, thus pushing up earnings estimates and providing stronger support for the shares.

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