AIG homes in on two homegrown execs for new CEO

May 12, 2014, 7:40 PM UTC

FORTUNE — American International Group (AIG) is on the hunt for its next chief executive, and two internal candidates have emerged as frontrunners to succeed current CEO Robert Benmosche.

Peter Hancock, 55, and Jay Wintrob, 57, both U.S.-based AIG executives, are the top candidates being considered by the insurer, which may select its new CEO as soon as September, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Benmosche, who helped stabilize the $76 billion company after its bailout by the U.S. government, has said he intends to step down early next year, and the annual shareholders meeting on Monday is expected to be his last as the company’s leader.

Hancock runs the global property-casualty business and has been considered the favored incumbent for the top position by many analysts and investors. However, Wintrob’s recent performance overseeing the life-insurance and retirement business, which counted for over half of AIG’s pretax operating income from its insurance business last year, leads many to think there is a two-way race for the job.

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The board of directors is considering outside candidates, as well, but going beyond the walls of AIG isn’t likely unless both executives fall out of favor, a source told the Journal.

“Selecting a CEO is one of the most important responsibilities,” the board wrote in a statement Friday. “The AIG board has spent a considerable amount of time on succession planning as it evaluates both internal and external candidates.”

AIG’s new leader will inherit a company that is about half the size it was before the financial crisis. The insurer divested two international life-insurance units and sold a number of other non-core businesses to raise money to pay back the money loaned by U.S. taxpayers. Benmosche oversaw the company’s return to profitability and installed a series of new risk-management checks. However, Wall Street still thinks the company needs to improve its core property-casualty unit, and the next CEO will be tasked with extending Benmosche’s gains.

As the board weighs its decision, it “has been spending quality time with each of the candidates,” the person with knowledge of the company said, and Benmosche “has been mentoring both of them.”