China's troubled Anbang Insurance is said to interview banks to manage asset sales

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 April, 2018, 9:49am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 April, 2018, 9:49am

Anbang Insurance Group, the troubled Chinese insurer seized by the government, is interviewing investment banks to advise on potential asset divestments, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The once-acquisitive insurer plans to hire an adviser to manage the sale of parts of its portfolio, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Some bankers were in Beijing earlier this month pitching to officials from Anbang and the Chinese banking and insurance regulator, one of the people said.

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Advisers may also help find new investors to buy a stake in Anbang, the people said.

The Chinese government took temporary control of Anbang in February, saying at the time it would consider “all or partial” sales of its assets. Anbang burst onto the global scene in 2014 with the US$1.95 billion purchase of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel and continued its buying binge by snapping up financial companies and marquee properties around the world.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission didn’t immediately respond to an enquiry seeking comment. Anbang currently has no plan to dispose of assets, its public relations department said in response to Bloomberg queries.

Anbang bought Dutch insurer Vivat NV in 2015 and agreed to invest 1.35 billion (US$1.7 billion) to recapitalise the company. The next year, it acquired Strategic Hotels & Resorts for about US$6.5 billion, gaining a portfolio of luxury properties including San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis and JW Marriott Essex House in New York.

The Chinese company also owns controlling stakes in South Korea’s Tongyang Life Insurance, Antwerp-based insurer Fidea NV and Belgian lender Nagelmackers.

China’s government has been seeking to broker the sale of a stake in Anbang, Bloomberg News reported in January. Regulators said last week that Anbang will start the selection of strategic investors and aim to introduce private capital as soon as possible.