This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," December 2, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you know, everyone is still talking about this column: "The role of government is to help a company stay in business." Those are the words of former AIG chairman Hank Greenberg in this latest op-ed that is still causing ripples throughout the financial world.
He's calling for a new rescue deal for the company he headed. Back then, the company was making money. Right now, it's on the brink.
He joins me now in an exclusive chat.
You know what I read which said, is this the same Hank I know? You said: "The role of government should not be to force a company out of business, but, rather, to help it stay in business, so that it can continue to be a taxpayer and an employer."
CAVUTO: That is you asking for the government to effectively play the role of bailing out?
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HANK GREENBERG, FORMER CEO, AMERICA INTERNATIONAL GROUP: No. I am saying, when you bail out, the terms of the bailout should not be so draconian that it puts you out of business. The bailout should be thoughtful and not have such interest-rate — high interest rate charges that you can't possibly make.
And look at the first bailout plan AIG was offered: $85 billion at 14.5 percent interest. That's a three-ball operation.
CAVUTO: That was a Tony Soprano contract, right?
GREENBERG: Yes. Yes.
CAVUTO: All right.
But, you know, the view across Washington is that that is not the case, that AIG and that the financial bailouts we have seen have almost gotten special treatment.
When I was at the White House a couple of weeks ago, covering the president's big summit with financial leaders, Congressman Elijah Cummings joined me, of course, no friend of this new management of AIG. And I know you're not either.
But here is what he had to say about their request for more money. This is from a couple weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MD.: We have AIG, that has come to the Congress not once, but twice, cashmere hat in hand, begging for money to save itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: Reinforce that argument at the time. I know you had nothing to do with this, but I will just say of the new management, they were getting bonuses. Some were getting massages.
CAVUTO: Corporate retreats. It did not look good.
GREENBERG: I agree with that.
CAVUTO: So, what do we do with this team that is in there?
GREENBERG: Well, it is a demolition team. I mean, read today's paper. This Paula Reynolds, who was hired as a vice chair in charge of restructuring, said, if we have to disassemble AIG, so be it.
Now, that is directly contrary to what Liddy has been saying, that we're going to keep the property casualty business.
CAVUTO: Liddy, the present chairman...
GREENBERG: Yes. Yes.
CAVUTO: ... who was brought in from another insurance concern.
CAVUTO: But you see what I mean about what happens, Hank, when you give money or the government steps in? It can only complicate things, because whatever requests or demands of that money only makes the wound deeper. You know what I mean, that maybe the better part of valor would be never to give any money at all?
GREENBERG: Well, look, the first deal that was offered, AIG would have been better off in Chapter 11.
CAVUTO: Why was that never pursued?
GREENBERG: Because the board did not pursue it. The board was more concerned...
CAVUTO: Well, if you were running things there, would you have done that?
GREENBERG: I never would have accepted the — I never would have accepted the deal that was offered, never, never would have accepted that...