UPDATE 1-AIG names Zaffino as president in sign of possible leadership shift

(Adds context about succession planning, details about executives)

Dec 18 (Reuters) - American International Group Inc on Thursday named Peter Zaffino, the executive overseeing a turnaround effort of the company’s general insurance unit, as AIG’s president.

The move increases the likelihood that Zaffino, now AIG’s chief operating officer and chief of its general insurance business, could become the insurer’s next chief executive officer, a role held by Brian Duperreault since 2017.

Zaffino, 52, will continue to serve in his current roles when he replaces Duperreault as president on Jan. 1, 2020, AIG said.

A company’s COO is generally next in line for the CEO job as part of typical planning for the succession of leaders. The appointment of the COO as president typically signals that the transition to the role of CEO is imminent, often within a year.

Zaffino joined AIG as COO in 2017 from insurance broker March LLC where he was CEO. Duperreault, who took the helm of AIG that same year, handpicked Zaffino to work alongside him in an effort to turn the company around.

A key focus was transforming AIG’s general insurance business where Duperreault and Zaffino set about overhauling AIG’s underwriting culture after years spent chasing revenue growth without appropriately weighing risks.

In May, AIG’s general insurance business posted its first underwriting profit since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.

“Today’s announcement recognizes the value that Peter has brought to AIG over the last couple of years,” Duperreault said in a statement.

Zaffino’s roles include overseeing a company-wide initiative that AIG set in motion this year to improve its technology and processes. (Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York; Editing by Jane Wardell and Paul Simao)