Date
16 August 2017
Anbang acquired New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2014 for a record-breaking US$1.95 billion. Photo: AFP
Anbang acquired New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2014 for a record-breaking US$1.95 billion. Photo: AFP

China asks Waldorf owner Anbang to sell assets abroad: Bloomberg

Chinese authorities have asked Anbang Insurance Group Co., whose chairman was detained in June, to sell its overseas assets, Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed sources.

The government has also asked Anbang to bring the proceeds back to China after disposing of holdings abroad, the sources said.

Anbang, who acquired New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2014 for a record-breaking US$1.95 billion, dismissed the report.

“Anbang at present has no plans to sell its overseas assets,” the company said in a WeChat message. “Currently, Anbang’s various businesses and operations are all normal, and the company has ample cash and sufficient solvency capabilities.”

Anbang was among the most prominent of Chinese insurers that went on a buying binge across the globe, fueled by soaring sales of investment-type insurance policies, Bloomberg said.

Its chairman, Wu Xiaohui, has been detained for questioning since mid-June, while the policies fueling its growth have been all but banned by regulators, the report said.

Several prominent Chinese buyers of foreign assets have come under regulatory scrutiny recently as the government sought to limit capital outflows and clamp down on pricey, debt-funded deals.

They include Fosun International Ltd., HNA Group Co., Dalian Wanda Group Co., and the consortium that bought Italian football club AC Milan.

A source told Reuters that all of Anbang’s overseas dealings – ongoing purchases and refinancing work on existing assets – had already been halted since Wu’s detention for investigation, adding all daily operations were now reported to the insurance regulator.

The hefty prices paid by Anbang for trophy assets like the Waldorf will likely make it difficult for the group to secure a quick sale without deep discounts, financial sources told Reuters.

And even at keen prices, political uncertainties could discourage buyers, the sources said.

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CG

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