Twist in China’s biggest corporate battle as Anbang Insurance raises stake in developer Vanke
Anbang Insurance Group spent 2.3 billion yuan to increase its holding of China Vanke’s A shares to more than 7 per cent before the stock’s trading was suspended on Friday afternoon, show filing records, adding a new twist to the ongoing fight for control over China’s largest homebuilder.
Anbang had bought 105 million of Vanke’s Shenzhen-listed shares at 21.808 yuan apiece on Thursday, the day when Vanke’ chairman Wang Shi said it did not welcome a consortium backed by insurer Baoneng Group becoming its biggest shareholder, a Hong Kong stock exchange filing on Tuesday showed. Anbang bought another 22.9 million shares at 23.551 yuan apiece the next day before trading was halted in the afternoon, taking its total holding in Vanke A-shares to 7.01 per cent.
This means Anbang and Baoneng together hold more than 30 per cent in Vanke, qualifying them for controlling shareholder status if they are connected parties.
Mainland’s The Economic Observer newspaper and Jiemian.com cited sources as saying Anbang and Baoneng’s Jushenghua and Foresea Life Insurance are connected parties in the transaction even though this has not been mentioned in any exchange disclosure. Anbang is an indirect shareholder in Jushenghua through its holding in companies including Minsheng Bank.
Jushenghua and Foresea Life Insurance, both controlled by Guangdong businessman Yao Zhenhua, had increased their Vanke holdings to 23.52 per cent on December 15, the filing shows.
Yao’s companies have splashed out nearly 40 billion yuan in total since June to replace state-owned China Resources as the largest shareholder in Vanke, setting the stage for what is turning out to be the biggest corporate battle in China’s history.
Vanke chairman Wang Shi has questioned Baoneng’s credibility, saying the latter’s status as the single-largest stakeholder does not bode well for the company. The comments, made at an internal meeting, caused a stir.
Vanke’s A-shares have risen nearly 70 per cent this month before they were suspended from trading on Friday. They jumped by the maximum 10 per cent daily limit on both Thursday and Friday.
Vanke shares in Hong Kong closed at HK$22.90 before the suspension, gaining 42.7 per cent over the past 12 months.