AIG Asks Local Resort to Hide Company Name During this Week's Conference, E-mail Shows

One of the pools at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort

By Ray Stern

Executives from the failing insurance giant AIG can run, but they can't hide from media attention about their expensive conferences.

The company's Asset Management group will meet in Phoenix over the next four days at an upscale Phoenix resort, spending an estimated $300,000 on rooms and amenities which include a speech by football legend Terry Bradshaw.

In an October 9 e-mail obtained by New Times, Eric Koontz, an AIG official in New York City, makes it clear the beleaguered company wants to keep the conference quiet. Koontz writes to workers at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort at 7677 North 16th Street:

Please note that due to the media reports of AIG conducting business at various resort properties, we have eliminated "AIG Advisor Group" from all of our collateral and would appreciate it if you would assist us by insuring that AIG logo is not listed in any public place on property.

If you'll recall, the company was condemned last month for spending $440,000 on a conference in St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California, just days after taking an $86 billion bailout loan from the government. AIG subsequently canceled another pricey conference scheduled to take place in the seaside town of Half Moon Bay, California.

Last week, the company announced it would borrow another $20.9 billion from the government.

The rooms at the Squaw Peak Resort aren't the fanciest in the Valley, costing AIG $189 each, according to documents sent to New Times. But conference guests won't be slumming it, either, as one look at the hotel's Web site reveals.

Hotel receipts obtained by New Times show that in addition to the rooms, AIG is spending thousands of dollars on food, drinks, a photographer, floral arrangements, and VIP airport transportation for selected AIG personnel. One hotel event order describes a requirement for two ficus trees and six ferns for stage decor at $425 each.

A Channel 12 (KPNX) article from Friday about the Phoenix conference quotes AIG spokesman Joe Norton saying that the expenses had been reviewed, and the company was going forward with it.

Eric Koontz, who wrote the e-mail obtained by New Times, did not return a call on Monday afternoon. A woman who said she was Koontz's assistant called to say Koontz might reply by e-mail, but as of 6 p.m. he had not responded.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern