How AIG has planned for (another) disaster

US Regulators have released information that shows how a number of large financial institutions plan to handle a major financial crisis – they’ll use something called a "living will"

Insurance News


Ian Katz and Jesse Hamilton
American International Group Inc. would spin off its non-life insurance divisions if it were to fail, while HSBC Holdings Plc and BNP Paribas SA would ditch their securities units.
U.S. regulators gave a glimpse Friday at how about 125 financial firms propose to wind themselves down if they were to collapse. Excerpts of so-called living wills released by the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. show that the strategy of many banks is to leave subsidiaries operating while their parent companies go to bankruptcy court.

Plans of non-U.S. banks including Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and Banco Santander SA were among those disclosed. RBC said it would likely sell assets operated through its capital markets division into the market rather than seeking a single buyer for that unit. RBS said if it were to face failure, it would look to shed its U.S. operations.

Banco Santander’s preference would be to sell everything to a single large bank, though it suggested private-equity firms or a company like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV may have the “incentive and the ability to purchase a portion” of the bank’s consumer lending unit.

Proposals also were released by three companies deemed systemically important by U.S. regulators -- AIG, Prudential Financial Inc., and General Electric Co.’s finance unit. Prudential’s failure would see its financial units dumping their outstanding derivatives positions in bankruptcy, while its more traditional insurance arms would be rehabilitated through their primary state regulators, the insurer said.

Prudential said in a statement that its plan -- most of which will only be seen by the regulators -- demonstrates that “if necessary, Prudential could be resolved in a rapid and orderly fashion without creating systemic risk.”

GE Capital outlined what it described as a "controlled liquidation" strategy. The parent company, GE, is reshaping itself by selling most of the assets in GE Capital, and plans to ask regulators to rescind the finance unit’s systemically important designation. GE agreed on Friday to sell its home- appliances business to China’s Qingdao Haier Co. for $5.4 billion.

Similar portions of the living wills of 12 large banks, deemed the most complex -- including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Credit Suisse Group AG -- were released in July.

In 2014, the Fed and FDIC told the largest banks to improve their living wills after saying lenders had failed to write blueprints that could take them through bankruptcies without hurting the broader financial system. JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Credit Suisse were among the firms ordered to amend their plans, which are required under the Dodd-Frank Act. Those banks are awaiting word from regulators on whether their plans are sufficient.


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