Is a talent war shaping up between AIG and its former chief executive and biggest private shareholder, Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg?
That's the thrust of a New York Times story Tuesday. It suggests an ongoing drain of AIG employees to Greenberg's insurance-focused vehicle, C.V. Starr & Co., could become a flood due to bailout pay czar Kenneth Feinberg's draconian rulings last week affecting AIG and a handful of other major recipients of taxpayer aid.
According to the Times, Feinberg's decision to limit pay at the U.S. government-controlled AIG "may hasten the exodus of A.I.G.'s talent, sending more refugees into Mr. Greenberg's arms, since C. V. Starr is free to pay whatever it wants." Industry observers also speculate that the privately-held Starr, fortified by recently departed AIG talent, might grab chunks of insurance business away from AIG. Douglas Love, a rival insurance company executive who has also hired people away from AIG, told the Times the 84-year old Greenberg is "just starting 'AIG Two.'"
A Web of Niche Insurance Businesses
Like AIG, Starr is organized as a complex web of companies, most of which specialize in niche insurance lines. Ventures it's announced sell insurance for corporate directors and for construction accidents on bridges and roads built with federal stimulus dollars. Most Starr units operate as general agencies rather than captive insurance vendors. The company does not have a financial products unit.
Earlier this month, Starr leased three floors (141,000 square feet) in a midtown Manhattan office building formerly occupied Lehman Brothers.
People who joined Starr or its affiliates from AIG this year include:
- Charles H. Dangelo was named head of Starr Indemnity & Liability Co. in March, leaving AIG Global Risk Management.
- Jim Vendetti became Starr Indemnity's senior vice president and chief underwriting officer
- Alex Pittignano was hired to build Starr's environmental risk insurance business.
- Geoff Smith left AIG last December to head Iron-Starr Excess Agency, a joint venture between Starr and a company called Ironshore that is led another ex-AIG executive.