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Benmosche says cancer prognosis led to earlier retirement from AIG


As he prepares to step down as chief executive officer of American International Group Inc. on Sept. 1, Robert H. Benmosche revealed that his ongoing cancer prognosis forced him to move up his planned retirement by several months.

In a televised interview with Bloomberg TV, Mr. Benmosche said he had originally planned to leave AIG sometime in early 2015 after five years as its CEO, but he elected to exit the company early after being told by his doctors in May of this year that he likely had nine to 12 months to live.

“We were thinking about the first quarter of next year,” Mr. Benmosche said in the interview, referring to his originally planned retirement date. “I said, 'You know what, I'm not going to play the odds, and I think the changes have to be made now, not later.' So I said we should accelerate my retirement, and (AIG's board of directors) was happy to do that.”

A spokeswoman for AIG confirmed the details of in the interview Thursday afternoon.

AIG announced in June that Mr. Benmosche planned to retire at the end of this month and appointed Peter D. Hancock to succeed him as its chief executive.

Mr. Benmosche is widely credited for marshalling AIG back to stability following its near-collapse and government bailout in 2008. During his five-year tenure as CEO, the company fully repaid the $182 billion in bailout funding it received from the federal government, plus $22.7 billion in profit earned in the interim.

A year after he was appointed as CEO, Mr. Benmosche was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 at the age of 66.

Mr. Benmosche said during the interview his most recent tests show that the disease's mutation has slowed considerably since the early part of this year.

“They say I'm stable, which is a big word, because it wasn't stable for the last six months,” he said.