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Financial regulation

Anbang Insurance gets US$10 billion rescue bailout from Beijing after ex-chair Wu Xiaohui admits fraud

The cash injection follows ex-chairman Wu Xiaohui’s guilty plea to charges of fundraising fraud and embezzlement last week

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 4:15pm

China will inject 60.8 billion yuan (US$9.7 billion) into the beleaguered Anbang Insurance Group to ensure its solvency after ex-chairman Wu Xiaohui admitted fundraising fraud and embezzlement involving more than US$10 billion.

The injection of cash from the government-run Insurance Protection Fund will take Anbang’s registered capital to 61.9 billion yuan, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Anbang, one of China’s largest insurers, claims on its website that it controls almost 2 trillion yuan of assets. The company is known for its aggressive global expansion, including the almost US$2 billion acquisition of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2014.

In February the Chinese government seized control of Anbang after Wu was detained for alleged economic crimes, marking one of Beijing’s most dramatic moves in its clampdown on financial risks stemming from excessive borrowing. 

Last week Wu asked for leniency in court in Shanghai as he pleaded guilty to charges of “fraudulent fundraising” and “work-related embezzlement”. Prosecutors had previously accused him of defrauding investors of 65.3 billion yuan (US$10.4 billion), making his trial one of China’s biggest related to financial crimes. 

The Insurance Protection Fund, set up to protect policyholders in the event of an insurer going bankrupt, is run by the CBIRC and had pooled 108.5 billion yuan from insurers by last September.

The aim of the cash injection is to guard the insurer against “insolvency and instability”, while making sure the government takeover of Anbang proceeds in an orderly way, the CBIRC said on Wednesday.

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Anbang will start to select strategic shareholders soon and introduce private capital to participate in its equity restructuring, especially those “big privately owned companies” that have collaborative resources with insurance businesses in the pension, health care, and internet technology sectors, the regulator added.

“As a non-government industry rescue fund, the Insurance Protection Fund only temporarily holds stakes at Anbang. Next, the fund will transfer its stakes methodically and let Anbang remain a privately owned company,” the CBIRC said in the statement.

Previously, the CIRC said the government takeover would last for at least a year. During the takeover, the company will be managed by a group of officials from the CBIRC, the People’s Bank of China, the securities, banking, and foreign-exchange regulators.

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