AIG’s roots run deep in Asia

SINGAPORE, September 17, 2008 (AFP) – AIG has deep roots in Asia, and the troubled insurance giant is now trying to reassure millions of policyholders and tens of thousands of employees in the region that it will survive.

Speaking before the Fed announced its rescue plan, Tey said a rush to liquidate policies is an over-reaction. American International Group, rescued by an 85-billion-dollar US government bailout, was founded in China in 1919. Asia remains a vital market for the firm, whose collapse could well have heralded a full-on global crisis.

Of AIG’s 116,000 staff in 130 countries, almost half are reportedly in Asia, where wholly owned subsidiary American International Assurance Company Limited (AIA) manages most of the life insurance operations in Southeast Asia, China and Australia.

Even after the US Federal Reserve rescued AIG, thousands of worried policyholders thronged Asian offices of the firm, some hoping to terminate their agreements.

In Singapore, hundreds lined up outside the company’s local headquarters while more than 1,200 descended on the Taipei offices of AIG subsidiary Nan Shan Life Insurance.

Other nervous policyholders went to the local offices in Hong Kong.

AIG, best known