News / USA

Troubled Insurance Giant Posts Loss

One of the world's biggest insurance companies said it lost billions of dollars in the final three months of last year as it struggled to pay back a massive bailout loan from the U.S. government.

AIG said Friday it lost almost $8.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009, after making money in the previous two quarters.  

AIG was once the world's biggest insurance company but nearly collapsed during the global financial crisis.  The U.S. propped up the company with $180 billion in emergency aid, fearing its demise could damage the global financial system and cause the U.S. unemployment rate to increase.

AIG has been trying to pay back the money by selling off some of its holdings, and blamed some of its losses on costs incurred in the process.  

The company has also faced heavy criticism for paying large bonuses to its top executives.

In exchange for the emergency aid, the U.S. government got an 80 percent stake in AIG.  

The insurance company had said it hopes to pay off the loans in three to five years.  On Friday, company officials said they would not use cash generated from its life-insurance policies to repay its debt.

AIG lost more than $60 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 - the largest corporate loss in history.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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