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Paula Reynolds Is Likely Liddy Successor at AIG

This morning's announcement by embattled American International Group (AIG) CEO Ed Liddy that he's leaving his $1 a year job is no surprise to those who've seen him get mauled by Congress. His likely successor, Paula Rosput Reynolds, shouldn't be a big surprise either.

AIG's board, which will have more than half new fresh faces by the time the decision is made in July, ultimately has the choice and Reynolds, who was named vice chair and head of restructuring last October only a month after Liddy came on board, is an obvious choice.

Reynolds has vast experience as a CEO. She served in that role at auto insurer Safeco in Washington state until the company was sold to giant Liberty Mutual and also at Atlanta-based AGL Resources, an energy company. Given her background, it's unlikely she would have played second fiddle at AIG if she didn't feel she would one day assume first chair.

She is in the catbird seat: restructuring and selling off major pieces of the insurance company are what it's all about right now, and any other CEO would obviously have to turn to her. So why not simply put her in charge?

Her role at Safeco, where the previous CEO had focused on his own political ambitions, was to restructure that company. She did, only to have it sold off.

Reynolds is highly personable, and would likely be able to handle the hardheads in Congress who gave Liddy so much abuse. She has also been bringing in her own people from Safeco to AIG, a sure indication that she believes her future is there.

AIG has indicated that the roles of CEO and chairman will now be split, with the chair likely to focus on schmoozing Congress, a sticking point for Liddy, who had to justify huge bonuses that were promised before his arrival. The company is likely to seek another high-profile face for that job.

Outside candidates will also be considered, as undoubtedly will Richard Booth, former AIG senior vice president who was also named vice chair at the same time as Reynolds. But being an AIG executive during its collapse is unlikely to score points with new board members, who will be looking for fresh faces like Reynolds.

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