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AIG posts $4.35b quarterly loss

Financial unit costs blamed

By Stephen Bernard
Associated Press / May 8, 2009
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NEW YORK - Battered insurer American International Group said yesterday its first-quarter loss narrowed, and was sharply lower than the record-setting loss it posted a quarter ago.

The New York-based insurance giant said it lost $4.35 billion, or $1.98 per share, during the quarter ended March 31, compared with $7.81 billion, or $3.09 per share, during the same quarter last year.

AIG lost $61.7 billion during the fourth quarter, the most ever in a quarter by a US corporation, amid the mushrooming credit crisis and shortly after its near-collapse.

AIG's first-quarter operating loss, which excludes impairment and accounting charges, totaled $1.6 billion, or 97 cents per share. The impairment charge for the quarter totaled $2.63 billion, compared with $3.96 billion during the year-ago period.

The first-quarter loss was primarily tied to costs from the winding down of its financial products unit, which was the at the center of the near-collapse.

AIG was bailed out by the government on the same weekend in September that investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. failed. AIG has since received four rounds of government support amid fears that a full collapse of the insurer that was once the world's largest would devastate the market.

The government provided an $85 billion loan in September. As conditions worsened and losses piled up at the insurer, the government revised and expanded its loan package several times. Loans available to AIG total nearly $180 billion after being expanded in March.

In return, the government has taken an 80 percent stake in the firm.