Athene expresses interest in 19.9% stake in AIG's life & retirement unit

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FILE PHOTO: The AIG logo is seen at its building in New York's financial district

By Alwyn Scott and Suzanne Barlyn

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Athene Holding Ltd has expressed interest in buying a 19.9% stake in American International Group Inc's life and retirement business, Athene's chief executive, Jim Belardi, told Reuters on Wednesday.

"I have no idea what will happen and whether we're in the mix or not, but we've expressed interest and we'll see what happens," Belardi said.

AIG said earlier Wednesday that it has received inquiries from "high-quality companies" interested in the unit. AIG said last October that it intended to separate the business through an IPO or sale of a 19.9% stake.

The comments come as insurers are offloading capital-heavy assets at a frenzied pace to free up capital and reposition their businesses.

Belardi said Athene has capacity to acquire $90 billion in assets and "a healthy pipeline of inorganic deals as we speak."

Athene's track record with large, complex deals and its cooperation with alternative asset manager Apollo Global Management Inc prompts sellers to approach them, he said.

"Firms call us," Belardi said.

"There's usually something that we have an interest in on every balance sheet for an insurance company that's going through a restructuring, or businesses they're not committed to," he added.

"And then you just talk about price to get something done. And they usually want to free up capital; we have a lot of capital to help them."

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott and Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)