AIA shares fall on AIG stake sale

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 2:37am

Shares of AIA declined yesterday after American International Group (AIG) priced the sale of its remaining stake in the Hong Kong-listed insurer near the top end of the indicative range.

AIA's shares dropped 3.3 per cent yesterday to HK$30.60 per share after AIG priced its 13.7 per cent stake in AIA, 1.65 billion shares, at HK$30.30 per share. The indicative range was HK$29.65 to HK$30.65 per share on Monday, when trading in the shares was suspended.

AIG raised US$6.45 billion by selling its final stake in AIA, ending a relationship that began in 1919 in Shanghai.

"This latest divestment of the remaining holding is noteworthy in AIA's history since it marks the end of AIG's shareholder interest in AIA," Mark Tucker, AIA's chief executive and president, said in a statement yesterday.

According to two people familiar with the deal, AIG's exit was priced at the high end of the range because the offering was widely expected and the size was in line with market expectations.

"The stock of AIA has been undervalued for a long time, which provides a meaningful entry point for long-only investors to take a sizeable position," one of the people said.

The order book was covered an hour after the deal launched, because the brand and corporate structure captured the interest of jittery investors who have been badly burned by corporate governance and accounting scandals among small- and medium-sized Chinese private firms.

"Shares of AIA attracted … investors because the company runs a profitable business and pays reasonable dividends to investors," one of the people said.

AIA's shares have gone up by more than 60 per cent since its initial public offering in 2010, the source pointed out.

AIG has been cutting its stake in AIA since that year, when the pan-Asian life insurer was spun off and raised more than US$20 billion in a Hong Kong listing.

The American insurance giant has been selling non-core assets to repay the US government's US$182 billion bailout in 2008.