In an exclusive report in The Wall Street Journal, word emerged that AIG (AIG) CEO Robert Benmosche has said he may leave, largely because of what he sees as heavy-handed government regulation. He believes that the "pay czar" is hurting the insurance company's chances of bringing in new talent.
Benmosche has fought the government, his board and the public's perception of him at nearly every turn. He complained when government officials did not immediately approve his $10.3 million pay package -- perhaps forgetting that his predecessor Ed Liddy worked for $1.
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When the public criticized a vacation he took just after joining AIG, he gave an interview to Reuters explaining how hard he worked while at his holiday villa. Benmosche has made a number of public comments about the pace at which AIG has been allowed to sell units and bring in talented people.
AIG may be better off without Benmosche. The Obama administration should view the appointment of a controversial figure into a high profile job, in which diplomacy is part of the role, as a mistake. Unlike other companies that the government has given money to, AIG has quarreled with the administration on a regular basis. AIG's management needs to spend more time restructuring the firm and less time battling the government.
Who could take Benmosche's job? Ken Lewis, the CEO of Bank of America, (BAC) who has announced his retirement, has a lot of experience running a big financial firm and dealing with government regulators.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.