A judge’s ruling that MetLife (MET) is not “too big to fail” opens up an opportunity for insurer American International Group to seek an exemption from the tag, AIG Chief Executive Peter Hancock said on CNBC on Thursday.
However, Hancock said AIG (AIG) was “reserving judgment” for now.
AIG’s near collapse in 2008 and its $182 billion bailout by the U.S. government was the driving force behind the inclusion of certain non-bank financial companies, including AIG, as “systemically important financial institutions,” or SIFI.
The SIFI designation means regulators believe a collapse of the company could devastate the U.S. financial system just as much as the failure of a major bank and comes with increased regulatory oversight and capital requirements.
Hancock, who said “the whole world was somewhat surprised” by the MetLife ruling, noted that AIG had shrunk its balance sheet, giving it a strong case to get its SIFI tag removed.
AIG’s mortgage insurance unit, United Guaranty, filed for an initial public offering on Wednesday as part of AIG’s plan to become smaller. The company also plans to sell its broker-dealer network.
Activist investor Carl Icahn, who is AIG’s fifth largest shareholder, has been pushing the insurer to become smaller and simpler to allow it to shed its label as a non-bank SIFI.
General Electric’s GE Capital, another non-bank, formally asked the U.S. government on Thursday to stop designating it a SIFI.
Shares of AIG, which have fallen 12% so far this year, were little changed at $54.55 in premarket trading.