American International Group Inc. launched the sale of its Asian life insurance unit, American International Assurance Co. yesterday, aiming to rise up to $20 billion that will help the bank repay a $60 billion debt with the U.S. government.

AIG sent a sales memorandum to potential bidders to buy as much as 49 percent of stock in the Asian arm, according to the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal which quote people familiar with the situation.

Among the potential bidders are: China life, the top life insurer of the world; British bank HSBC; British insurer group Prudential ; Prudential Financial of the U.S.; Canadian ManuLife Financial and Allianz of Germany, FT reported.

Any interested bidder must prove they have enough resources to finance the buyout.

AIG faced grave financial difficulties in 2008, neededing two bailouts from the U.S. government which now owns 80 percent of the insurer.