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Chickens still not hatched at Prudential

|Includes: American International Group Inc (AIG), PUK

Everybody had been counting the $35.5 billion AIG is supposed to get for selling crown jewel AIA to the British insurer Prudential PLC as if the money's already in AIG's (and thus the taxpayer's) pocket, but -- as has become ever clearer -- the fat lady has not sung just yet. It appears that major shareholders including Fidelity, Black Rock, and American funds may not support Pru's big rights issue.  The Treasury had been counting the money as being in its pocket, just as it has been treating the sale of AIG's Nan Shan Life for $2.15 billion as done, even though the Taiwanese insurance regulator has not yet blessed it.

Of the many risk points in Pru CEO Tidjane Thiam's gambit to put Pru PLC center stage in Asia, one has largely escaped attention. Thiam is inadequately disincented to fail.  With his dramatic bid, Thiam became the arguably most visible Cote d'Ivoirian on the planet, with the possible exception of Chelsea's Didier Drogba, and perhaps the most swashbuckling of all Africans on the world stage at the moment. Africa has always loved a strong man. Should he fail to acquire AIA and be chucked out the door, it will be really no skin off his back. He fails with a vision, and will land solidly elsewhere, at the IMF, the World Bank, a pan-African body of some sort, or even finds a way to take the helm of Cote d'Ivoire itself at some moment of crisis.  Don't get me wrong, I like the guy, but I don't think a goof on this one will spoil his career.

Disclosure: Indices only, US Citizen -- therefore AIG shareholder