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AIG’s rating outlook switched to ‘negative’ by S&P

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Standard & Poor’s Financial Services L.L.C. said Tuesday it has revised its rating outlook on American International Group Inc. to negative from stable, saying that the insurer’s recent track record of delivering on strategic goals was “subpar.”

At the same time, the New York-based rating agency affirmed its ‘A+’ financial strength rating of AIG.

“The outlook revision reflects AIG’s protracted period of delivering (property/casualty) commercial insurance underwriting initiatives, which we believe may be a predictor of its executional effectiveness on a prospective basis,” S&P credit analyst Tracy Dolin said in a statement.

While AIG’s operating performance has continued to benefit from diversification, S&P said it questioned AIG management’s ability to effectively execute its plan to achieve adjusted accident year loss ratio performance of 62% for its troubled commercial insurance segment by year-end 2017 — raised from its original 60% target — given the segment’s modest track record to date.

AIG has experienced a tumultuous past year, which culminated with the announcement shortly after the insurer announced a $3.04 billion 2017 fourth quarter loss that former CEO Peter Hancock would step down.

Mr. Hancock was replaced by industry veteran Brian Duperreault last month. 

“We believe Brian Duperreault, recently appointed CEO, is an accomplished (property/casualty) insurance industry veteran and his track record speaks for itself,” S&P said in a statement. “However, his succession comes at a precarious time. Brian Duperreault became the company’s sixth CEO in nine years and there have also been a number of other senior management changes within the past couple of years.”

S&P said that while Mr. Duperreault’s recent appointment addresses CEO succession uncertainty, “in our view it may take a while to turn the commercial operations around and meaningfully improve operating performance and AIG’s earnings quality.”

S&P said it may lower AIG’s rating by one notch over the next one-to-two years if AIG does not meaningfully improve its operating results relative to its peers while maintaining its key competitive strengths. S&P said a downgrade may also be subject to its review of the company's prospective initiatives following the completion of its 2016-2017 strategic plan.

Last month, rival rating agency A.M. Best Co. Inc. removed its negative review of AIG and affirmed its ‘A’ rating of the insurer.