Monday, March 14, 2005

When Strong Men Resign: Whither AIG After Greenberg? (Revised)

So the board of directors of AIG, according to the Wall Street Journal, is close to jettisoning long-time CEO, Strong Man "Hank" Greenberg, as a tide of regulatory problems at AIG rises ever-closer to the executive suite that Greenberg ruled with an iron fist.

I know ex-AIG veterans, and they swear by Greenberg and his get-it-done, make-the-numbers, show-the-growth style. He came into a small, insular company and made it a Wall Street fave and an insurance industry steamroller. But what problems has he steamrolled along the way?

Time will tell, and I have no particular insights into AIG itself--perhaps a reader or two may enlighten this page. But I can not name a single company of the get-it-done, make-the-numbers, show-the-growth type that has not uncovered vast problems--from the billions of dollars in overstated earnings at Tyco to the vast channel-stuffing uncovered at Coke--whether the Strong Man has retired in glory or resigned in disgrace.

Think about them: Tyco afterKozlowski; Coke after Goizueta; GE after Welch; Enron after Lay; Worldcom after Ebbers; Pfizer after McKinnell (McKinnell is still there, but the problems are already surfacing)...

It will be very interesting to see what the regulators uncover now that Greenberg is out at AIG. My guess--an educated guess--is that it will get much worse before it gets better.

Jeff Matthews
I'm Not Making This Up

P.S. My first draft of this piece omitted two of the most obvious of all Strong Men: Sandy Weill, whose heir Chuck Prince is dealing with festering problems at Citibanks all over the world; and Michael Eisner, Disney control-freak extraordinaire finally yielding to--or perhaps more like installing--former weatherman Robert Iger in his place.

5 comments:

Thoroughbred said...

I was watching that bastion of news today CNBC and Maria Bartiromo was on mad as hell and she wasn't going to take it anymore. She blamed Spitzer for the AIG problems, said it seemed very unfair that Greenberg was resigning and all but said it was because Spitzer was on a crusade and Greenberg was a very innocent bystander. I was waiting for her to cry, I haven't seen that much passion in her since Dow 5000. She pointed out how he was in Davos on a panel she chaired and Greenberg was so amazing that the Pres. of China came by to see him, how could this man do anything wrong. Man, I wanted to puke

Its_strange said...

Ask the old NYSE specialist who traded AIG what he thinks of Greenberg...

Its_strange said...

And i wonder what Grasso is thinking ?????

nmcfa said...

Was that Tyco at $10, Coke at $38, GE at $23, Citi at $25... you get the point. (and the rest never had an altman z-score that would pass for default).

cesar balbin said...

GET REAL

Greenberg and AIG have made a living out of improperly denying insurance claims and using that wealth (that does not belong to them) to buy out our crooked prostitutes better known as politicians. AIG and Greenberg have done so much to undermine public confidence in corporate America and have helped tarnish our image world wide from cooking the books, illegal claims handling including threatening and black mailing insureds and their witnesses, intimidating judges and other goverment officials and then pushing for new territories to expand their theft and KAOS by means of war. Yes they actually have done this. One reason we trade with China is because Greenberg pushed for it many years ago and then now labor secretary pushed against it (head of WDC think tank advising senate and congress) only to be convinced to change her mind by then President Bush Senior and Greenberg. Bush even wanted him named head of the FBI.
I am shooked that now so little has continued to happen to these crooks and I say that in the plural as we must not forget the employees left behind who helped Hitler or I mean Greenberg carry out his attrocities. ALso equally as amazing is the fact that while people like Martha Stewart were sent to jail for destroying a phone message (not for insider trading as the press says) that Greenberg who has orchestrated so much inclduing the theft of $35 Billion, yes Billion, in corporate stock among other things, has left AIG and not gone to jail.
I for one demand that he and his crooked employees now running AIG do go to jail and AIG be taken down once and for all and all monies split among those insured's they have robbed.
SEE AMERICANINTERNATIONALGROUPSUCKS.COM

AND JOIN IN PROTEST AT THIS YEARS SHAREHOLDERS MEETING WHERE YOU CAN BRING UP YOUR CONCERNS AND COMENTS INSIDE THE MEETING FOR THE WORLD PRESS TO HEAR. BE ELOQUENT AND TO THE POINT AND THE MESSAGE WILL COME LOUD AND CLEAR. FURTHERMORE ALL NEW YORKERS SHOULD ASK THIS ABOMINATION BE REMOVED FROM DOING ANY BUSINESS IN NEW YORK. WAS THIS NOT WHAT THE TERRORIST CLAIM TO BE TRYING TO TARGET, DISHONEST BUSINESS?

Cesar Balbin