Tuesday, March 02, 2010

AIG selling $50B units - integration struggles ahead?

As AIG plans to sell off two large units from its core, it makes me believe that there are interesting people-, process- and technology-times ahead for the companies acquiring them. As I talked about yesterday, insurance companies are used to the fact that they have different lines of business running different systems. According to Matt Buttell at Financial Services Technology, AIG's Asian life business goes to Prudential PLC, and hopefully next week American Life Insurance Co (ALICO) goes to MetLife. The interesting thing about these transactions is that both Prudential and MetLife have their own units running similar lines of business. Both Asia and ALICO are probably preparing themselves to struggle to become a core line of business inside the new mother-nest, rather than a book of customers used purely for revenue purposes.

The size of the sales ($35.5B for the Asian business and close to $15B) suggests that there is value in maintaining some semblance of individuality in the companies for now at least. But how long will it take before the new owner starts looking for efficiency gains from integrating the business units? At that point, having effective internal proceses and shared services already in place will achieve two things for the acquired company: the potential that its process and technology best-practices will appear better than the existing infrastructure; simpler integration with the parent could make it less painful for everybody.

The aim for the AIG outcasts (only outcast because they were more appealing than other parts of the business) may be to look good and play well with others. I know from having worked with businesses from both Asia and ALICO (especially ALICO Mexico and Chile), that Asia and ALICO both employ BPM process improvement technology to streamline underwriting and potentially other parts of the business. So does MetLife in some parts of its business that I'm aware of, so the approach for all involved will be to survey: what do we have, how good is it, and how easy will it be to integrate it into the whole?

Good luck to everybody involved in the upcoming rebirth of their organizations. The best-practices and efficiencies you can show now could determine your success in the long-term.

A post from the Improving It blog

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