ABC News’ Alice Gomstyn reports: The government bailout of AIG is of historic proportions, but will the name AIG become history too?
According to the embattled insurance giant’s CEO, the answer is yes.
Late into Wednesday’s House Financial Services hearing on AIG -- in between the spirited and sometimes testy exchanges over the AIGFP bonus controversy -- CEO Edward Liddy revealed that while the company’s healthy businesses would survive, its name probably wouldn’t.
“I think the AIG name is so thoroughly wounded and disgraced that we're probably going to have to change it,” he said.
Liddy cited one example: AIG’s U.S. property casualty business, American International Underwriters, which is being “rebranded” as AIU. The AIG cord for AIU hasn’t been cut completely yet -- the business’ Web site, near the top, reads “a member company of American International Group Inc.”
Many of AIG’s life insurance businesses already have distinct names, Liddy said.
“So where there may have been an approach to use one single name like AIG,” he said, “we're reversing that and going back to some of their individual brand names.”
AIG won’t be unique in trying to save face through a name change: Phillip Morris Cos. distanced itself from its increasingly controversial tobacco products by reemerging as Altria, while discount airliner ValuJet -- which saw its reputation disintegrate after the crash of one of its planes in 1996 -- flies today as AirTran Airways.
While the AIG name remains in use, some are having a bit of snarky fun with the abbreviation, which is short for American International Group.
AIG stands for “arrogance, incompetence and greed,” Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., said during Wednesday’s House hearing.
“Who cares what their name is,” one ABC News reader recently posted on the Political Punch blog. “They could (c)all themselves An Irrelevant Gaffe for all I care.”