U.S. insurer American International Group Inc.'s (AIG) Chief Financial Officer David Herzog was one of four top-level executives to announce their exit Thursday, as CEO Peter Hancock continued to simplify operations. Herzog will be succeeded by Sid Sankaran, 38, currently the chief risk officer, the company said.
Analysts reacted to the news with skepticism despite the company’s assurance that Herzog was not leaving as a result of disagreement over financial matters. While RBC Capital Markets noted that the timing of the announcement was “odd”, one analyst called the high level departures a “Bloody Thursday,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The exits “should raise significant concern—for we believe this is management confirming our view that the company’s operating turnaround is flailing,” said Sanford Bernstein & Co.’s Josh Stirling, in a research note.
However, the company spokesperson Jon Diat said that the “organizational changes announced today have been considered for nearly a year.”
In November, AIG announced plans to cut as many as 400 senior-level jobs in restructuring initiatives, less than a week after activist investor Carl Icahn wrote a public letter to Hancock urging the company to split up -- an idea that Hancock promptly rebuffed.
Icahn's move, thought to be one of the biggest campaigns by an activist investor in 2015, dismissed the company’s recent attempts to rid itself of loss-making ventures and lack of cost controls.
Last month the company also reported adjusted third-quarter earnings of 52 cents a share -- well below Wall Street’s expectations of $1.03 per share, according to a consensus estimate by Thomson Reuters.
The New York-based insurer added Thursday that John Doyle, head of commercial insurance -- one of AIG’s most important businesses -- was also leaving. Duties of the four departing managers would be distributed to executives who are remaining, the company said. AIG’s stock fell about two percent Thursday following the announcement.
“The company is clearly under significant pressure from activist investors, including Carl Icahn, to improve results or split up the company,” Jay Gelb, an analyst at Barclays Plc, said in a note quoted by Bloomberg. “We doubt this management shakeup will result in much improvement in core results,” he added.