AIG Asset Management Sale Attracts Asia Investors

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd and Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li’s Pacific Century Group may join an investor group in talks to buy American International Group Inc’s (AIG.N) asset management unit, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Franklin Resources Inc (BEN.N) and Crestview Partners LP are in exclusive talks for the business, and the two Asian investors are considering taking part in that consortium, the source said.

The asset management business, which rests with AIG Investments, had drawn interest from both private equity and strategic buyers, sources have said previously. Initial bids for the unit had come in around $500 million.

AIG also agreed to sell two New York buildings, including its downtown Manhattan headquarters, another source familiar with the matter said.

The insurer’s headquarters at 70 Pine Street are in a 66-story building topped with a Gothic-like spire. It was the tallest building in downtown Manhattan prior to the building of the World Trade Center. Occupants of the office are likely to stay there through the end of 2010.

The other building is located at 72 Wall Street, and employees are to be relocated by the end of this year, the source said.

Both buildings, which are connected by a skywalk, were constructed in 1932 and have been owned and operated by AIG since the 1970s.

The source declined to name the buyer or the value of the deal.

Separately, AIG said it agreed to sell its consumer finance operations in Argentina for nearly $44 million to Banco Galicia (GAL.BA) and an investment group led by Grupo Pegasus.

Banco Galicia bought 80 percent of the company and the Pegasus investment group purchased the remaining 20 percent. [ID:nN02316659]

AIG is also in negotiations to sell its consumer finance businesses in Colombia and Mexico, another source familiar with the matter said.

AIG bought Inversora Pichincha, which was the third-largest consumer finance company in Colombia, from Ecuador-based Banco Pichincha CA and other minority shareholders last year.

AIG declined to comment. Pacific Century and Temasek could not be reached immediately for comment after hours. The sources are anonymous because the talks are private.

The moves are part of a larger divestiture program by AIG, as it looks to sell assets to pay back the U.S. government. The government has committed some $180 billion to AIG’s rescue, including about $85 billion in loans that the insurer is trying to repay with these divestitures.

AIG shares were off 7 cents, or 4.2 percent, at $1.59 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)