Incoming AIG CEO Starts Tenure With Two Week Vacation

I am cynical enough to believe that this signal, of having a CEO start his new job by going on holiday, is quite deliberate. We the great unwashed public are being given the message that we should not run Goldman operatives fine upstanding men like Edward Liddy out, because look what sort of commitment to the job we get now.

Having said that, Dubrovnik, where the new CEO Robert Benmosche, has a villa, is very nice. I recommend it highly, villa or not.

From Bloomberg (hat tip reader DoctoRx):

Robert Benmosche, the chief executive officer of American International Group Inc., plans to spend part of his first month leading the insurer in Croatia on vacation, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Benmosche, 65, who started yesterday as CEO and president of the bailed-out company, will leave for about two weeks, according to one of the people, who declined to be identified because the plans were private…

“It’s probably not a propitious time for an incoming CEO to begin with a vacation,” said Steven Seiden, president of New York-based executive recruitment firm Seiden Krieger Associates. Seiden said that while the absence won’t hurt the company’s financial position, “from a public relations standpoint it’s probably not the wisest thing to do.”

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  1. Jojo

    Ha! So what are they going to do? Fire him? Then they probably have to pay him a multi-million dollar settlement per his contract termination clause.

    Dammed if you do, dammed if you don't. The big guys ALWAYS win, no matter what happens…

  2. attempter

    I can believe that it's an intentional spitting in America's face, just for the pleasure of loutishness (like the way the Bush scum seemed to enjoy it for its own sake, even when they could get what they wanted while maintaining political tact). But the notion that there's some rationale thought out beyond that seems flimsy.

    I chalk this up as another piece of evidence of the objective incorrigibility of this cadre. This piece of garbage, a typical representative, is simply congenitally incapable of understanding why he's not entitled to go on a luxury vacation anytime he wants, under and circumstances. To question this is to question a religious belief.

    To put it as it should be put, in criminological terms, they cannot be rehabilitated and they are beyond deterrence (or "moral hazard" in this context).

    The ONLY way to stop the crimes is incapacitation (which if severe and rigorous enough may also have deterrence value in the future).

    As for the retribution element, there should indeed be a moral cleansing here. And the people have a right to release their anger upon those who have afflicted them.

  3. rob

    Oh, come on. The guy probably had planned out his vacation several months in advance. He probably said, I'll take it, but I want to start on Sept 1. Since Lidey stepped down last week, he probably had to start immediately.

    I've started jobs with vacations before, as I bet many other readers have.

    This looks like an August story in more ways than one!

  4. Siggy

    There is a certain insensitivity about the acceptance of the position and the immediate vacation. Hardly a step toward grasping the reins of leadership. Could it be that he expects his tenure to be relatively short as the enterprise is broken up and sold off? As that's been the implicit game plan from the beginning of the government bailout, let him go on vacation.

    If his roots are in Dubrovnik, well then, given my eastern european roots I can understand his desire to take the waters, if you will, to prep for the coming task.

  5. VG Chicago

    Sounds like a great start for AIG!

    Question is, how can we get the CEOs of Citi, BoA, and JP Morgan to take a long vacation too? Also, Geithner and Summers should join too.

    Vinny G.

  6. Tony Arko

    I don't fault the incoming strawman for continuing the fleecing of AIG, I fault our government for not holding anyone accountable. They continue to give away our tax dollars to lazy, incompetent cronies each and every time.

  7. "DoctoRx"

    Fascinating take, Yves, on what signal the vacation was sent.

    I, too, saw a signal in that the story ran in the first place. What I quickly inferred was that the Powers That Be were signaling the all-clear. No problems at AIG, so the new guy doesn't have to even pay the airlines a fee to change his ticket to later in the summer.

    Might there be a sophisticated double signal here?

  8. Hugh

    Doing some googling I come up with that he is 65 and spent most of his career at MetLife but retired in 2006. His pay package is to be in the $7-$10 million range. His connection to MetLife make any potential sell-offs of AIG units to this company rife with conflicts of interest. It is hard to see in what new directions, a retired 6 year old insurance exec is likely to lead AIG. Starting his job by taking a vacation shows a remarkable tin ear. We are likely looking at the combination of a doctrinaire attitude coupled with old ideas. In other words, we are looking at another poor, over-compensated but very typical choice that shows how little daylight there is between Bush's and Obama's economic teams.

  9. adam

    Come on, world would be a better place if some people went on a long, long vacation. Maybe they should try it with lawmakers.

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