Genworth Surges After U.S. Security Approval for China Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Genworth Financial Inc. jumped the most in almost two years after a U.S. national-security panel approved the $2.7 billion buyout of the company by China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews foreign acquisitions of American businesses, found “no unresolved national-security concerns” with the proposed deal, Genworth said Saturday.

That was “somewhat surprising,” given challenges other deals from Chinese buyers have faced, according to Tom Gallagher, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc. At least 10 Chinese deals for U.S. firms have collapsed during the Trump administration amid security concerns raised by CFIUS.

The approval fueled a 26 percent gain in Genworth shares to $4.80 at 1:42 p.m. in New York, the biggest intraday increase since August 2016.

The Genworth decision underscores that Chinese transactions are winning approval, despite problems for some high-profile deals, said Anne Salladin, a lawyer at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in Washington who works on CFIUS reviews. Each deal raises unique issues that can be resolved through mitigation agreements with the panel, she said.

“People seem to think that there’s a block against Chinese deals, and that’s just not the case, despite the fact that they undergo intense scrutiny,” Salladin said.

Genworth Chief Executive Officer Tom McInerney has been trying since 2016 to secure regulatory approval for the transaction as Genworth faced higher-than-expected costs on long-term care coverage. The Richmond, Virginia-based insurer had to refile multiple times with CFIUS, and included an agreement to use a third-party provider to help protect consumer data.

CFIUS reviews are confidential and the panel declined to comment on the Genworth decision. In its most recent report to Congress, CFIUS highlighted that insurance is among the industries the panel pays particular attention to because insurers hold potentially sensitive data about people and businesses that are important to national security.

Saturday’s news clears one hurdle for the insurer and boosts the probability of the deal being completed, but both companies still need a sign-off from state regulators including overseers in Delaware, according to Sean Dargan, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co.

Ameriprise Shares

Ameriprise Financial Inc. also climbed Monday, gaining 4.1 percent to $148.48. The company reinsures some long-term care policies with Genworth, a point of concern amid fears that Genworth’s deal with China Oceanwide would collapse, according to Gallagher.

“This is also a notable positive for AMP given that investors have recently become increasingly concerned about the company’s reinsurance contract with GNW,” he said Monday in a note to clients, referring to the two companies’ ticker symbols. “The approval of the GNW/China Oceanwide merger will likely alleviate concerns that AMP will be required to take an outsized long-term care reserve charge in the event of a GNW bankruptcy.”

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