AIG names former Citigroup head as new CEO
Advertiser news services
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NEW YORK — American International Group Inc., which has lost billions on bad bets on the mortgage market, yesterday named former Citigroup Inc. executive Robert Willumstad to replace the insurer's besieged chief executive.
Willumstad, 62, will take over immediately from Martin Sullivan, 53, the company said. Stephen Bollenbach, the former CEO of Hilton Hotels Corp., will be named AIG's lead director.
AIG named Willumstad chairman of the board in fall 2006, about a year after Willumstad left his post as president and chief operating officer at Citigroup. Citigroup had passed him over for the CEO job — which went instead to the now-dethroned Charles Prince.
Sullivan, a native of England who had worked with AIG for 37 years, now joins the long list of CEOs who have been pushed out since the credit crisis started slamming the financial services industry last year. That list includes Citigroup's Charles Prince, Merrill Lynch & Co.'s Stanley O'Neal and Wachovia Corp.'s Ken Thompson.
ONLINE BOOK CLUB HAS LIBERAL TAKE
NEW YORK — For the past five years, liberal books, especially the Bush-bashing kind, have been a thriving market. A new online club is betting that they can evolve from a market to a movement, long after the president has left office.
The Progressive Book Club, which officially launched today, combines the offerings of a traditional book club with the interactive features of an online social network and the ideals of a grassroots political party.
The new club offers a selection of works each month, at discounts from 10 percent to 40 percent, and perhaps up to 80 percent. For most sales, the club will donate $2 on the member's behalf to educational, environmental and other organizations.
The Web site, www.ProgressiveBookClub.com, also will feature videos, audios, forums for debates, book reviews and recommendations.
NEW BATTERY POWERS HYBRIDS
South Korea's government has developed a lithium-ion battery that will be used to power gasoline-electric hybrid cars produced by Hyundai Motor Co.
The government spent $38 million on the technology, the country's Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement yesterday. Hyundai, South Korea's largest automaker, will use the batteries in a compact car to be sold next year.
The U.S. Energy Department said last week it plans a $30 million program funding the development of plug-in electric vehicles, while Toyota Motor Corp., the world's largest maker of hybrid cars, said June 11 it plans to start mass-producing lithium-ion batteries in 2010.
EMPLOYEES BUY OWN DEVICES
Many employees — frustrated that their companies are unwilling to pay for the laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices that they want on the road — are spending their own money to get them.
Nearly 40 percent of professionals recently surveyed by researcher In-Stat paid for a laptop that they regularly carried. Cell phone users often picked up their bill. And company-provided personal-digital assistants, cameras and Global Positioning Systems are relatively rare, says the survey, out today.
U.S. DRIVERS HEAD SOUTH FOR GAS
SAN DIEGO — If there's pain at the pump in the U.S., Mexico may just have a remedy.
A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in San Diego retails for an average price of $4.61 a gallon. A few miles south, in Tijuana, it's about $2.54.
More and more people appear to be taking advantage of the lower price. Gas is cheaper in Mexico because of a government subsidy intended to keep inflationary forces in check.
Still, international gas-buying trips don't make sense for everyone. The wait getting back into the U.S. frequently takes longer than two hours, and cars can burn about a gallon of gas for each hour they idle.