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Bob Benmosche


Profiting on the misfortune of an individual is considered heinous by most people's standards. Profiting on the misfortune of a country, that sets the bar at a whole new level. It's just what AIG did as the United States dealt with the financial crisis that began in 2008. Not only was the insurance company bailed out to the tune of $182.3 billion, but news got out that the insurer was prepared to give its financial services division employees a $218 million bonus. For a company whose 2008 fourth-quarter loss of $61.7 billion was not only the biggest quarterly loss in its history but was also the biggest quarterly loss ever posted by any company, the news that its workers were to be rewarded, courtesy of the American taxpayer, infuriated the public. Ed Liddy, who'd taken over as CEO in September 2008, found himself in the middle of a powder keg on the verge of exploding. With people losing jobs, homes being foreclosed upon, and the government choosing to bail out businesses, not people, AIG became a lightning rod for public vitriol, and Liddy became overwhelmed. His tenure as CEO lasted less than a year, and he departed in August 2009. Enter one Mr. Bob Benmosche.

Upon taking over the helm at AIG, Benmosche was tasked with ensuring that the company wouldn't get stripped clean and fade into nothingness. He made changes, big ones. Benmosche downsized, changed up management, got the people he wanted in place, and began the process of paying back the U.S. government, who'd become 90% owners of the company. In two years, that figure was down to 53%. Ultimately, AIG paid back every last penny of the $182.3 billion taxpayer-funded bailout and did so at a profit. A former CEO at MetLife who'd actually retired three years prior to being offered the top job at AIG, the plainspoken Benmosche never shied away from his beliefs, and he butted heads with some of the biggest players in the game, including U.S. pay czar Kenneth Feinberg. He steered the company from the brink of disaster, back to prosperity. He did so for $10 million a year, mind you. He was no altruist, but he got the job done.

Be that as it may, his toughest battle had not been fought in the boardroom. In 2010, Benmosche was diagnosed with lung cancer. He beat the disease while remaining AIG's CEO, a position he would continue to hold into 2014. While it was his intention to retire closer to the end of the year, a devastating diagnosis in May would hasten his exit. That's when he was told he had terminal lung cancer and given the prognosis of 9 to 12 months to live. In August 2014, he left AIG and retired, spending what time he had left with his family. As it turned out, the diagnosis was deadly accurate.

Bob Benmosche died on February 27 at the age of 70. Gerard Tierney and Allen Kirshner each get 8 points for the hit and 3 bonus points for the duet, a total of 11 points.

--Allen Kirshner

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