China Is Said to Pick CICC, UBS to Ready Anbang Divestments

(Bloomberg) -- China has picked China International Capital Corp. and UBS Group AG to advise on potential disposals of assets owned by Anbang Insurance Group Co., people with knowledge of the matter said.

Government regulators have asked CICC and UBS to help with preparations for divestments by Anbang, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The work is still at the planning stages, and no formal auction process has begun, the people said.

The government team that took over Anbang said in a statement on the insurer’s website on Monday night that the company has no plans to dispose of its overseas assets and its operations are stable. Third parties are offering consultancy services, the statement said, and some media reports have read too much into the matter.

Anbang, which shot to fame after snapping up assets around the world, was temporarily seized by the government in February amid President Xi Jinping’s campaign to curb risks in the financial system. The insurer’s former chairman, Wu Xiaohui, was sentenced earlier this month to 18 years in prison after being convicted of fundraising fraud and embezzlement.

Representatives for CICC and UBS declined to comment. The Financial Times reported the bank selections earlier Monday in Hong Kong, citing unidentified people.

Anbang said earlier this month that an interim working group has been meeting investment banks as it reviews all of the company’s overseas assets. Bloomberg News reported in April that Anbang was interviewing potential financial advisers that would manage the sale of parts of its portfolio.

The Beijing-based insurer first gained global prominence in 2014 with the $1.95 billion purchase of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. It 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.

China has taken steps in recent months to keep Anbang stable, injecting 60.8 billion yuan ($9.5 billion) of capital in April to bolster its solvency. The government has also said it’s is seeking strategic investors for Anbang and aims to introduce private capital into the insurer as soon as possible.

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