An $85 billion government rescue of insurer American International Group Inc looked increasingly likely on Tuesday to stave off a bankruptcy that would have thrown world markets back into turmoil.

The Federal Reserve will extend AIG $85 billion in exchange for a nearly 80 percent stake to bail out the troubled insurance giant, a person briefed on the matter said.

The deal would avoid the biggest corporate bankruptcy ever and follows a government bailout of mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae just over a week ago.

Then AIG shares, which had sunk 21 percent in regular trading, fell as much as 48 percent in after-hours dealings after reports of a rescue that could wipe out shareholders.

The New York Times, which had reported that AIG could file as soon as Wednesday for bankruptcy protection, later reported the deal with the Fed.

“This would mean another shareholder wipeout,” said David Ader, head of government bond strategy at RBS Greenwich Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson were briefing members of Congress on the deal on Tuesday evening, a Treasury official told Reuters.

“They’re too big to fail. AIG touches too many people and too many companies globally, and it would be much more of a disorderly event if it went bankrupt than it was with Lehman,” said Anton Schutz, president of Mendon Capital in Rochester, New York.

Of course they did. The government goes back on it’s claim, tax payers get it in the ass and the economic problems will continue that much longer.

I bet Lehman Bros. is a bit pissed.


A bit more info over at CNN:

The line of credit to AIG, which is available for two years, is designed to help the company meet its obligations, the Fed said. Interest will accrue at a steep rate of 3-month Libor plus 8.5%, which totals 11.31% at today’s rates. AIG will sell certain of its businesses with “the least possible disruption to the overall economy.”

AIG will sell certain of its businesses with “the least possible disruption to the overall economy.” The government will have veto power over the asset sales and the payment of dividends to shareholders.

The company’s management will be replaced, though Fed staffers did not name the new executives. The board will remain. For customers, it will be business as usual, officials said.

Two years ain’t no bridge loan.