British insurer Prudential PLC said Monday it will buy the Asian unit of bailed out American International Group Inc. in a deal worth $35.5 billion that will allow AIG to pay back some of the money it owes U.S. taxpayers.
AIG, which was kept alive by a $182.5 billion rescue by the U.S. government in September 2008, will get $25 billion in cash — $20 billion of that from a Prudential rights issue — and $10.5 billion in new shares and securities for the sale of AIA Group Ltd.
The combined group will be the leading life insurer in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as the biggest foreign life insurer in China and India, Prudential said, The Associated Press reports.
"In considering two viable, very attractive alternatives to successfully monetize AIA, including an initial public offering, we decided that a sale to Prudential enables AIG to realize value on a faster track to repay U.S. taxpayers," said AIG's President and CEO Bob Benmosche.
"This transaction, the most significant milestone to date in our ongoing effort to repay taxpayers, also gives us greater flexibility to move forward with AIG's restructuring and focus on enhancing the value of our key insurance businesses, which will benefit all stakeholders," he added.
The company said Monday that it will also sell the equity stake in Prudential after a minimum holding period and use the proceeds to further reduce its debts, MarketWatch reports.
According to The Montreal Gazette, Prudential said the deal will bring together two leading companies, "allowing them to capture growth opportunities in Asia... and accelerating our strategy to deliver value to shareholders."
Some of the proceeds of the AIA sale are expected to go to the U.S. Treasury, which late in 2008 lent parent AIG $85 billion U.S. to save it from default. It could not meet its mortgage insurance obligations as the U.S. financial crisis worsened after the failure of Lehman Bros.