AIG Exits PICC Group Stake With a Whimper Rather Than a Bang

(Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc. bought into The People’s Insurance Co. (Group) of China Ltd. as a cornerstone investor in its initial public offering more than six years ago.

Since that time -- early December 2012 -- Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index has generated a total return of about 60 percent, while the S&P 500 Index has paid a very healthy 125 percent. AIG sold its PICC Group stake Thursday, and came out 1.75 percent ahead with a profit of HK$67.8 million ($8.6 million), including the dividends it received, Bloomberg calculations show.

It’s just another piece of not-so-great news for the New York-based insurer, whose fortunes Chief Executive Officer Brian Duperreault has been working to revive. Pain from old policies and volatile markets fueled AIG’s second straight surprise loss in the fourth quarter, a sign that a turnaround remains challenging.

AIG raised $482 million selling its 1.11 billion PICC shares at HK$3.40 each, near the bottom of the marketed range, according to terms for the deal obtained by Bloomberg. AIG had earlier offered the stock at HK$3.39 to HK$3.43 apiece, and the final price represents a 5 percent discount to PICC’s Wednesday close.

For PICC Group, AIG’s sale of its entire interest will remove the overhang on the Chinese insurer’s share price, Bloomberg Intelligence insurance analyst Steven Lam said. “The impact to PICC Group’s life insurance business should be minimal, as it has a much stronger distribution network today compared with when it was listed in 2012,” he said.

The deal was equivalent to about 12.8 percent of PICC’s existing Hong Kong-traded shares. The stock was trading 1.4 percent lower Thursday. Shares in AIG are up 10.3 percent since January after tumbling 34 percent in 2018.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.