Thursday, September 30, 2010

AIB and AIG Again, With Some Details

The Central Bank of Ireland has finally put a price tag on the total cost of bailing out the state-owned Anglo Irish Bank, Ireland's equivalent to AIG. The bank was nationalized in January 2009 and has put on a real damper on Ireland's ability to borrow in the international bond markets. The losses have been capped at $46.75 billion in a worst-case scenario. In US-terms this sounds like chump change. But the government sponsored bailout of its financial sector will cause the budget deficit to rise to 32% of Irish GDP. Sure, the Irish plan to cut the deficit to 3% to make the bond market happy again, but that will be a bitter pill to swallow for the country's citizens.

Meanwhile, in the US, where $150 billion government bailouts are de rigueur, the US government and AIG have agreed in principle on a plan for the government's exit. The details are as follows:
  • The government converts its $49.1 billion of preferred into common to increase its ownership stake to 92.1%.
  • The conversion will take place in early 2011 if AIG can repay $20 billion to the Fed, which it can only do if it can IPO its Asian unit successfully.
  • Current shareholders, who really really love this plan, will receive 75 million warrants with a $45 strike price (still out of the money as we speak, despite the inexplicable rally in the shares.)
  • The Treasury takes over the NY Fed's interests in two SPVs that will theoretically recoup $26 billion from sales of AIG's overseas assets.
  • The Treasury will commence gracefully puking 1.655 billion shares over some period of time to complete its exit.
Assuming everything goes according to plan, the US will recoup its money. Count me among the skeptics, of course. Alot of things have to go right for this hare-brained scheme to work. AIG needs to pull off a monster IPO. The stock market has to remain in its chipper mood where no economic number, no matter how bad, gets it down. Investors actually have to get involved in AIG's stock, instead of all the day traders that like to play on the limited float. And we have to avoid a double dip, without discouraging the Fed from purchasing every asset in sight to keep markets going higher. Given how the Fed is eagerly offloading its stake in AIG to the Treasury, it seems you can count the Fed out on purchasing anymore AIG assets.

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