Anbang Reviewing Foreign Assets, Talking to Investment Banks

(Bloomberg) -- Anbang Insurance Group Co., the once-acquisitive Chinese insurer that’s operating under government control, said it is in the process of reviewing all of its overseas assets amid reports of imminent divestments.

Responding to questions from Bloomberg News, Anbang said it’s meeting with investment banks as part of the review. It’s the first time the firm has said publicly it’s reviewing assets, a reversal from previous statements that Anbang wasn’t planning any divestments.

Anbang, which shot to fame after snapping up assets around the world, was seized in February by the government, which said at the time that it would consider “all or partial” sales of its assets. Last month, people familiar with the matter said officials from Anbang and the Chinese banking and insurance regulator are interviewing advisers to arrange the sale of parts of its portfolio. As recently as March, Anbang said that it is “fully committed” to its overseas portfolio.

Anbang’s Interim Management Working Group will maintain communication with Anbang subsidiaries as well as local regulators as it assesses market conditions and other factors, according to the statement Tuesday, which said the firm doesn’t have a specific timeline at the moment. In an updated statement subsequently sent to Bloomberg, Anbang said it does “not have an immediate plan” to sell overseas assets.

Global Spree

The insurer first gained global prominence in 2014 with the $1.95 billion purchase of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel and continued its spree by snapping up financial companies such as Dutch insurer Vivat NV and trophy properties around the world like San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis.

The spree came to an end last June, when regulators detained Anbang’s Chairman Wu Xiaohui as part of a wider crackdown on risks in the financial system. Wu was accused of leading a $10.4 billion fraud, using unauthorized sales of investment-type policies to prop up the acquisitive company’s capital.

The Chinese government sent requests for proposal to 11 global investment banks to try to select arrangers to sell stakes in companies including Tongyang Life Insurance Co. and ABL Life, Korea Economic Daily reported earlier, citing unidentified investment banking industry sources.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Zhang Dingmin

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