American International Group, the giant insurer bailed out by the United States government, says its worldwide non-life insurance business - including operations in Hong Kong and the rest of Southeast Asia - is not for sale. 'The financial crisis has certainly had some impact on the commercial side, but our non-life business remains exceptionally strong and profitable,' said Leslie Mouat, regional president for AIG's non-life business in Southeast Asia. The comments come amid concerns that the US firm is offloading some of its assets in Asia as part of a bailout agreement reached with the US government. Under the agreement, the US government took a controlling stake in AIG in return for an US$85 billion bailout package unveiled on September 17. The company has said it will sell most units not related to the insurance business. However, premium growth for the surviving Asian non-life insurance operations would come under increasing pressure in the new year, said Mr Mouat, although property and marine cargo insurance had suffered only 'limited impact' from the financial crisis. 'Our operations maintain levels of capital and margin of solvency that are well in excess of what is required by regulatory authorities.' AIG's Southeast Asian operations include Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Macau. Its general insurance operation in Hong Kong has about 5,000 agents. It is the largest non-life insurer, excluding medical insurance, in Hong Kong. The company has said that there are no plans to reduce staff in Hong Kong, and it will continue to expand headcount in the region. Retaining consumer confidence in the non-life insurance business would be critical, Mr Mouat said, adding that the company was seeing retention levels return to normal. About US$4.6 million was lost from existing business in the early days of the financial crisis in the region. But the company had managed to write another US$12 million in new business, Mr Mouat said. 'The fact that insurance assets in most Asian countries are tightly regulated by local authorities should reinforce customer confidence.' But the industry is concerned that the economic downturn could dampen general insurance sales. 'Our [premium] growth slowed in the fourth quarter and it is inevitable that in the current economic climate our premium growth will be under pressure,' he said.