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AIG expands into multinational pooling, again (with more background)

24 June 2015, 6 September 2015

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AIG in early May 2015 announced that it has acquired a controlling stake in Brussels-based ING Employee Benefits Global Network and renamed it AIG Global Benefits Network (AIG GBN). AIG’s American General Life Insurance Company unit joined the pooling network as the new US partner, taking the place of ING USA, recently spun-off and renamed VOYA. VOYA, in turn, exits the US global employee benefits market in order to focus on other businesses.

The AIG GBN pooling network provides administrative and marketing services to insurance companies that offer employee benefits to multinational employers. Its members are insurers from around the world, often controlled or previously controlled by ING Group.

AIG had ceased competing in the multinational pooling arena following the sale of Alico (American Life Insurance Company) to MetLife in November 2010, including its pioneering AIG – Winterthur pooling network, formally known then as AIG Global Benefits Network, which subsequently merged with AXA – MetLife’s MAXIS GBN network and disappeared as a brand – now reborn.

Born in the 1960s, the “old” AIG network (and later also IGP) focused on North American multinationals’ expansion globally. Conversely, pooling networks born in Europe, first Generali, Insurope, Swiss Life and later Allianz’s All Net, ING, AXA and MetLife’s MAXIS and Zurich focused initially on European multinationals, including EMEA operations of North American multinationals.

More than half a century after the inception of multinational pooling, the same fundamental client need – being supported in its global expansion – still exists and, according to some sources, this is the rationale behind AIG’s recent investment in a pooling network. How successful cross-selling activities from AIG’s major corporate P&C clients into global employee benefits will be, shall be interesting to follow as cooperation between P&C and employee benefits teams has been historically difficult to achieve in most insurance groups – we stand to be corrected.

It was hard to see how a major insurance player called American International Group could be growing in US employee benefits – with a focus on large corporates at that – and remain unable to follow its American clients in their international expansion, all the more as AIG has had a long and successful tradition of doing business overseas. A by-product of the 2008 financial crisis, this odd state of affairs appears to be remedied.



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