China may force Anbang to sell Waldorf Astoria Hotel, NYC

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 2, 2017

As the country's insurance regulator ramps up supervision of the sector, Chinese authorities have allegedly asked Anbang Insurance Group to sell its overseas assets. Foreign bargain-hunters could benefit.

Anbang brushed off the report.

Thomson Reuters data shows that the four companies have bought more than $44 billion in overseas assets since 2012, through 221 deals. Targets included the cinema chain AMC Entertainment, the Waldorf Astoria hotel and Cirque de Soleil. Officials appear particularly concerned about Anbang, which sold a lot of risky-looking products blending insurance and investment.

Anbang said in a statement on the microblogging services WeChat that it now has "no plans to sell its overseas assets", but the report suggests increasing pressure on the company after its global buying spree. The hospitality deal marked the beginning of a high-profile shopping spree which saw Anbang pick up billions of dollars worth of office and hotel assets in the United States and Canada, as well as paying some $5.5 billion to acquire Chicago-based Strategic Hotels & Resorts from Blackstone in a deal forged last March. That may include the SkyBridge deal, which has just lost whatever political side-benefits it may once have offered.

Anbang could face heavy losses if the company is forced to unload its trophy assets at fire-sale prices, which could prove politically embarrassing.

But so far the campaign seems selective. Fosun is also still active, announcing plans to buy a French margarine-maker. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day.

Anbang spokespeople in Hong Kong did not have an immediate comment.

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