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AIG deal hailed

HONG KONG, Sept 7 – Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li\’s Pacific Century Group said Monday it was "very pleased" after sealing a 500 million dollar deal to buy part of US insurance giant AIG.

PCG will pay an initial 300 million dollars in cash for AIG Investments, part of American International Group\’s investment advisory and asset management business, the US firm said in a statement Saturday.

"PCG are very pleased to sign this agreement with AIG, although of course with a number of months until closing we will save our celebrations until completion," a PCG spokesman said Monday.

"AIGI have a strong management team, running a substantial portfolio of assets. The company suits our investment philosophy of making long term investments in quality businesses."

The units being sold to PCG operate in 32 countries and manage approximately 88.7 billion dollars in investments belonging to institutional and retail clients, AIG said.

AIG was the largest single recipient of US bailouts, with the government pumping more than 170 billion dollars into the firm in late 2008 to keep it afloat and taking a controlling stake in the group in the process.

The company was on the verge of collapse last year after backing trillions of dollars in risky financial products amid a home mortgage meltdown that triggered financial turmoil.

It has been selling off various units as it seeks to steady its financial operations.

The buyout marks a bold foray into asset management for Li, chairman of Hong Kong\’s biggest telecommunications firm, PCCW, and the son of Li Ka-shing, one of the wealthiest men in Asia.

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In August a court rejected Richard Li\’s bid to overturn a ruling blocking his controversial 2.1 billion dollar buyout of PCCW amid claims a shareholder vote on privatisation had been manipulated.

The long-running saga gripped the financial hub, as it pitted one of the city\’s richest families against minority shareholders and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), a regulator.

PCCW and Richard Li repeatedly said they had no knowledge of any vote-rigging.

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