Anbang Plans Leasing Unit Sale as Divestments Gather Pace

(Bloomberg) -- Anbang Insurance Group Co., the embattled Chinese conglomerate that’s controlled by the government, is selling its financial leasing unit as it looks to divest more of its domestic assets, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Beijing-based company is seeking buyers for the 100 percent stake in AB Leasing, which is currently controlled via two units, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions aren’t public. AB Leasing has about 3 billion yuan ($433 million) in registered capital, according to public records, and the sale may take place via auction, one of the people said.

An Anbang representative declined to comment.

A sale of the leasing business could signal regulators are quickening divestment of the company’s non-core assets as it refocuses on insurance. Beijing is seeking new strategic investors for Anbang after authorities seized control of the conglomerate in February amid a campaign to curb risks in the nation’s financial system. The insurer’s former chairman, Wu Xiaohui, was sentenced in May to 18 years in prison after being convicted of fundraising fraud and embezzlement.

Separately, Anbang has hired Bank of America Corp. to help sell a portfolio of U.S. luxury hotels, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week. In July, Bloomberg News reported that the insurer was weighing selling its health insurance unit in what would be the first major local asset sale.

Tianjin-headquartered AB Leasing was set up in 2013 by Anbang’s life-insurance unit and Chengdu Rural Commercial Bank Co., which Anbang also controls, according to the leasing arm’s website. The business provides financial-leasing services and works jointly with Anbang’s other units to offer financial services from credit to wealth management and securities investments.

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