On Feb. 15, Schreiber simplified right out of a job.
Just as AIG (NYSE: AIG) prepares to sell billions in assets, the company is losing its biggest dealmaker amid tensions in the executive suite. Over his 19 years with AIG, nobody could match his knowledge of the company and the ferocity of his advocacy, they said.
“Each successive CEO knew that Brian knew more about the inner workings of AIG, which is an enormously complex beast, than anybody else -- period,” said Christopher Cole, the former co-chairman of investment banking at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
In a statement issued through AIG, Schreiber said he was leaving to pursue new opportunities. He declined to comment further. The insurer’s senior executives often disagreed on strategy, according to people with direct knowledge.
Schreiber’s tenure at AIG spanned the company’s era of dominance and growth as the world’s biggest insurer, its calamitous fall in the subprime-mortgage debacle, its post-bailout return to profitability and its recent tussle with activist investors who want to break it into smaller pieces. He worked for six chief executive officers and arranged transactions worth $265 billion. In 2008, he helped negotiate a government rescue that would swell to $182.3 billion.
During the bailout, government officials were frustrated by Schreiber and other senior executives, according to Jim Millstein, the U.S. Treasury Department’s restructuring chief at the time. They felt managers should have known more about AIG’s lack of financial strength, which led to the company’s near-fatal collapse in September 2008, he said. Schreiber won over Treasury officials when he helped them understand the company’s sprawling operations, Millstein said.
“Brian knew where all the bodies were buried,” said Millstein, who now heads his own firm. “He knew who could be trusted and who was a thief.”
However, the person who gets a understanding of AIG just left and the places where bodies are buried could only be the problem for AIG to find and fix.