On Friday, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) announced it has hired four senior executives from American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG).
So who, exactly, did Buffett snag from the notorious insurance giant?
First, there’s Peter Eastwood, a 22-year American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) veteran who most recently headed up the company’s domestic property-casualty operations. Next, David Bresnahan served as president of AIG’s Lexington unit since June, 2011. Then there’s Sanjay Godhwani, who was president of AIG’s property-casualty operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Finally, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) also hired David Fields, who formerly worked as American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG)’s president of risk finance.
Heads I win, tails you lose
Should the folks at AIG take this as a compliment? Maybe they should. After all, Buffett’s world-class management team was the first of three reasons I suggested buying shares of Berkshire just last month, so the fact that Berkshire is willing to poach leaders from AIG at all may be a testament to AIG’s self-described “deep-bench” — especially when we consider this is by no means American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG)’s first brain drain.
Then again, as fellow Fool Jessica Alling wrote yesterday, as much as AIG might want to draw attention to all the great folks who remain, you can bet they’d much rather not have to replace their current leaders in the first place. Even worse, losing key executives doesn’t exactly do much to boost investor sentiment for a company with a storied history like American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG)’s.
Is the grass really greener?
So here’s what we do know: Based on the old roles of its new hires, Berkshire is obviously looking to take market share by growing its property-casualty operations. In fact, Eastwood already stated its first task is to grow the company’s domestic excess and surplus market — a $25 billion market of which Berkshire currently controls just 1.6%, compared with American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG)’s share at 20%.
Of course, few expect that task to be a walk in the park; in a research note Friday, Credit Suisse kindly pointed out it will still take “time for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) to successfully underwrite and win over material amounts of E&S market share.”