AIG Earnings Call Insights: Europe Outlook and Insurance Losses

On Friday, American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Europe Outlook

Josh Stirling – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.: Listen, I think we all appreciate the substantial clarity I’d say on Europe and near-term plans for capital management and how debt is going to fit in? I’m wondering David, if you could give us a sense of – in the near term, what sort of coverage ratios you might be trying to target? How much more beyond the hybrids you’ve identified, you would sort of (seize towards) to get there? When you think about sort of the firm’s total capital generation, obviously I think people sort of have handle at seems like operating earnings and premium tax benefits monetizing. I’m wondering if you can give us some of the color around what do the impact of the things you’ve been doing, restructuring your life insurance companies, consolidating legal entities in Europe and then percents of prospectively moving assets from the DIB or liabilities from FP into the regulated entities that we should be thinking about as a future capital impact?

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David Herzog – EVP & CFO, AIG: I’ll start on the capital management and then kick it over to Jay for commentary on the life legal entity restructuring and then maybe Peter can comment further on the Property Casualty legal entity and then we’ll circle back to Brian for maybe a word or two on the – some color on the Direct Investment Book. With respect to the coverage ratio improvement, I think the agencies have been pretty clear that while our leverages in a very strong position, they would like to see a couple of turns improvement over that period of time that 12 to 18 months. So, again, there are lots of ways to accomplish that. One is with a reduction in the interest expense and again targeting financial leverage or the securities that account towards financial leverage that includes senior debt, it includes some of the hybrids. So I think, again, that’s one way and obviously the continued improvement in the operating earnings of our core insurance operations is clearly the other lever and that’s consistent with our plans and expectations with respect to, again, the continued improvement. So those are the general direction that we’re going, we haven’t specifically identified any specific transactions. Again that is under consideration. So, Jay, why don’t you maybe comment on the Life and Retirement legal entity structure?

Jay Wintrob – President & CEO, SunAmerica Financial Group: Sure, David, thanks. Good morning, Josh. Let me put it in context, in terms of directly answering your question, in terms of increased capital efficiency, we see that as modest, probably somewhere between $150 million and $250 million of less lower capital but the same amount of liabilities, principally due to the covariance of risk. But more importantly, the legal entity consolidation is going to diversify our risks to a greater extent. That’s going to allow us both on an economic basis and also under all of our stress testing to withstand far greater stresses within our largest life entity American General Life Insurance Company. Also, there will be some modest but not an important expense savings from the consolidation. As importantly, from the standpoint of our distribution partners and others that we do business with, it will make doing business with us easier as will be more of a single life company with whom agents and financial advisors can be licensed to access a much broader range of our products. So there is several different benefits and capital efficiency is one of many.

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: Peter?

Peter D. Hancock – CEO, Chartis: Similar story in our Pan-European legal entity consolidation, we’re talking about going from four legal entities operating in 26 countries into one starting 1st of December and that had benefits both in terms of stat capital as well as operating cost efficiencies and better controls. The stat capital benefit (right of the bad) is about $300 million, but will be greater over time, but dependent on a number of factors, including how we organize our internal reinsurance pooling arrangements and the extent to which we use Europe versus North America as a hub for internal reinsurance as well as how we optimize our holdings in the investment portfolio, because right now our European investment portfolio has very, very high quality assets relative to our North American one. So there is room to optimize that where we hold what types of securities to increase our capital efficiency. So I think that taken as a whole, very substantial efficiency benefits both in terms of OpEx as well as the capital usage.

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: Brian, do you want to close on the DIB?

Brian Schreiber – EVP, Treasury & Capital Markets: Sure, Bob. As we said in the past, where we managed the DIB to again maximize its profitability over time while maintaining adequate capital and liquidity to cover any risks. The DIB over time has generated several $1 billion of income and gains. As David said, we expected to reach its half-life by about 2017. Again the significant NAV in that business will free up over time. As you heard in prior quarters, we have been able to excess capital out of the DIB, so we do have some flexibility there and we’ll continue to operate it prudently. I don’t know if there is a whole lot more to say on that at the moment.

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: Josh, just keep in mind that buying back debt would be just one of the options and capital management, David went through a whole list. I think it’s important that we focus on the operating earnings within the insurance companies and where we can do more of that as well as deal with the actual interest expense.

Josh Stirling – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.: The one other big question related to capital and I’ll pass the floor, is when you think about the fed and the prospects for you guys to be sort of held to a CCAR type process. The rules on either for the savings loan holding companies which you are, but where the rules are not yet established? Then, the fact that you’re not yet a SIFI, both of those lead want to say that it doesn’t feel as it would be required at the moment to particular in 2013 CCAR, is that the right lead or should we be expecting (indiscernible) CCAR this year?

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: That’s true what you said, however we are working with the fed because we are in hurry, we want to make sure that we know where we stand and so, we are doing our best to understand the requirements, run those requirements through our risk models and see what we can do to determine just where we stand. So, while there is no requirements, we’re still working informally to see if we can do something to assess where we are as we go forward. So we just have to wait and see how the federal reserve works with us and how they want to proceed with various sets. We are open to it and welcoming it because we think it makes sense to get clarity now rather than later.

Josh Stirling – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.: You don’t think that the fed would feel – I mean they would prefer to have clarity sooner rather…?

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: I can’t speak for the fed, I can only tell you, they are in. They are just starting to work with us. We’re a big company and they are working it through it and as soon as they able to make some assessment, I’m sure they’ll work with us. I think everybody wants to get clarity. It’s just a matter of time and working through a schedule to make sense for them.

Insurance Losses

Joshua Shanker – Deutsche Bank: My questions mostly relates Peter on the P&C side. I want to touch upon some detail about how much these one-off large non-catastrophe losses impacted the various international and U.S. segments in former (charters) and to talk about the persistency of prior year unfavorable reserve development, I realize a lot of your competitors also take rather semi frequent charges for environmental lawsuits. But given the size of your book, sometimes you should be adjusting up, sometimes you should be adjusting down. It seems like reserves are always being adjusted upward.

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: Before I turn it over to Peter, I think what – maybe Peter should respond to the first part of your question second. But I’d like maybe Peter and Charlie, because you raised a very important point on environmental and the way we’re doing it and quite frankly, we had AIG working really hard to do a bottoms-up analysis of all of our reserves starting with the claims themselves. So maybe, Peter, if you could pick this up and then pass it to Charlie and go through that. It’s a little bit more detail and some of you may want, but I think you need to understand the thoroughness of what we’re doing here and this is not just a pattern of actuarial assumptions. Peter?

Peter D. Hancock – CEO, Chartis: Yeah, well, let’s start with the first part of the question which is just that the steady improvement in accident year loss ratio has been somewhat slowed in this quarter by some unusual non-Cat but large losses in the international property side. So we view those as an outlier, that a number of them were named losses, where we were just below the threshold that we use to designate it as a cat. So definitely some – what we believe to be one-off anomalies. But on the reserves, let me just talk about that…

Joshua Shanker – Deutsche Bank: Can you just put a percent on that by the way? What percent do you think that impacted your loss ratio there?

John Q. Doyle – CEO, Global Commercial Insurance Business, Chartis: Josh, it’s John Doyle. It’s about a little less than 2 points. So about 1.8 points. So as Peter mentioned we had three storms in Asia that were named events, but didn’t meet our $20 million threshold to call it a cat. I mean then we had a number of larger losses, about 2 times kind of our average number of losses – in the quarter, big fire losses in the quarter that impacted it as well. We had a failed satellite launch as kind of another example. So double-digit severe losses, again, about 2 times kind of an average number, obviously, there going to be some lumpiness to two large losses in property, but it was a bit of an unusual quarter for us and as I said it had close to a 2 point impact on the current accident year loss ratio.

Joshua Shanker – Deutsche Bank: 2 points on international commercial?

John Q. Doyle – CEO, Global Commercial Insurance Business, Chartis: Yeah, and this is 1.8 points overall globally and most of it was on the international side.

Jeffrey Hayman – CEO, Global Consumer Insurance Business, Chartis: Yeah, Jeff Hayman jumping in for consumer. There is about $24 million in losses for consumer, exactly as John described and Peter named storms that were under our threshold Typhoon, Jelawat and torrential rains in the Kinki region of Japan and that’s about 0.7 on our accident year loss ratio.

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: Can we go to Charlie on the environmental?

Charlie: So a few things on environmental. We’ve now concluded a very detailed study of the environmental impairment liability portfolio and that’s a portfolio made up of five distinct fairy heterogeneous books that we described in the 10-Q and we reviewed claim by claim 2,150 odd files on the most complex claims, so that we focused on those with the highest policy limits. Many of these will written in the period prior to 2004 and you know we did not do this prompted by any actuarial indications and in fact the actuarial third party reviews would have suggested the environmental portfolio was redundant. We did it more, because we think that the characteristics of those claims are such that you really need other experts, engineering firms, toxicologists and litigation experts. In this quarter, roughly $60 million of the $77 million that you see – that we’ve posted as prior year development came from a very detailed analysis that we did on (mastoid) claims and we felt that the characteristics of those claims was sufficiently different to want a more conservative stance on this severity in particular. The other part I would say about persistency of prior year development, in the quarter we had $114 million of large commercial losses of that $70 million roughly related to losses and legal on a few construction defect claims, and we also had large losses in the healthcare division, this quarter and also last quarter and that’s shown as primary casualty in the all other components of the 10-Q and I would say the healthcare ones unusual. The healthcare division has actually posted very favorable development over many years and the industry as a whole has witnessed that, but these two claims are very peculiar and they really have the unique characteristics so we don’t think you are indicative of a trend.

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: So, I think as you can see even on environmental, it’s been a year of going through this and so, we’re probably in the $500 million to $600 million addition to reserve. But we think it’s completely behind us and we are continuing to do these reviews to continually build confidence in this reserve and make sure we have it right. So a lot of work has gone on to it, but I don’t think the trend is something that’s just a trend, but it’s actually are cleaning up to make sure everything is right.

Joshua Shanker – Deutsche Bank: So Bob, the initiative is complete on toxic waste.

Robert H. Benmosche – President and CEO, AIG: When we are going through the whole reserve, this is one area that was very complex and one that we really had to put a lot more time on.

A Closer Look: American International Group Earnings Cheat Sheet>>