Among those companies experiencing death or near-death on Wall Street in the past 72 hours is New York-based insurance conglomerate AIG. The 18th largest company in the world is struggling to shore up capital in order to prevent cuts to its debt rating, which could result in the firm’s failure and further damage to the financial system.

AIG was seeking a $40 billion bridge loan from the Fed, but that is unlikely, as the regulator just decided against a bailout for Lehman Brothers, letting it fail over the weekend. On Monday, the New York State Attorney General cobbled together a plan that would, in effect, allow the firm to lend itself $20 billion for daily operations by borrowing against its own assets. In the meantime, the Fed has hired Morgan Stanley to help it assess its options for keeping AIG afloat.

AIG has already raised $20 billion in capital this year. The company lost $13.2 billion in the first six months of 2008, mostly the result of declining values in mortgage-related securities. AIG shares plunged 61 percent in trading Monday, closing at $4.76.

Independent Reps Sit Tight

AIG has considered selling off parts of itself in recent days, including its aircraft leasing unit and its Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company, but little has been said about the fate of the firm’s four independent b/ds. AIG is parent company to Advantage Capital Corporation, AIG Financial Advisors, FSC Securities Corporation and Royal Alliance Associates. The b/ds have a combined independent sales force of over 7,000 reps and generate combined revenues of over $1 million—or about 15 percent of the parent company’s total revenue.

One Royal Alliance advisor was optimistic that the b/ds will not be sold no matter what happens to the company: “These are such remarkable circumstances. You have one of the biggest insurance companies in the world asking the Fed for a bridge loan,” he says.

Another AIG advisor with over $700,000 in client assets says she’s disappointed in the lack of communication from management. “I got an e-mail that was re-sent from May that says we are not affected by AIG’s financial results,” she says.