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AIG: 'Too big to fail' MetLife ruling opens door

Matthew J. Belvedere
AIG: 'Too big to fail' MetLife ruling opens door

If American International Group (NYSE: AIG) were to seek a lifting of the government's "too big to fail" designation, the insurance giant would want to work with regulators, rather than taking them to court as rival MetLife (NYSE: MET) did, AIG Chief Executive Peter Hancock said Thursday.

After Wednesday's ruling by a federal judge to throw out MetLife's systemically important financial institution, or SIFI, status, Hancock told CNBC's " Squawk Box " that the decision, subject to appeal, could open the door for AIG to try to shed its label.

"But I think it's something we want to reserve judgment [on] to see how the rules ultimately get written and how they get interpreted," he said.

AIG's near collapse in 2008 and its $182 billion bailout by the U.S. government was the driving force behind the inclusion of certain nonbank financial companies in the SIFI category.

The SIFI designation means regulators believe a collapse of the company could devastate the U.S. financial system just as much as the failure of a major bank and comes with increased regulatory oversight and capital requirements.

General Electric (NYSE: GE)'s GE Capital financing arm on Thursday said it formally applied to have its SIFI designation removed, noting the company has exited most of its bank and finance businesses, and contending it's no longer a "too big to fail" risk.

AIG's Hancock made a case similar to GE Capital, citing on CNBC his company's efforts since the 2008 financial crisis to decrease risk — including selling about 50 businesses, trimming the balance sheet and reducing leverage.

Hancock also pointed out that AIG "promptly repaid" its taxpayer bailout.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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