Tue, Feb 27, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Anbang ‘supports’ government takeover

MESSAGING:Analysts do not believe the move is a sign of more nationalizations to come, although the crackdown continued on Saturday on three other major insurers

Reuters, BEIJING

An Anbang Insurance Group Co sign is pictured above the entrance to the Anbang Financial Center in Beijing on Saturday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Anbang Insurance Group Co (安邦保險集團) yesterday said it fully supports the China Insurance Regulatory Commission’s (CIRC) decision to temporarily take control of the company, and remains committed to the development of its overseas subsidiaries.

They are the first comments by Anbang on Beijing’s move on Friday last week to seize control of the company.

“We fully support CIRC’s decision,” a company spokesman said of the commission’s one-year takeover. “We will continue to be committed to our overseas subsidiaries’ business and investment, and will provide necessary support to their healthy development.”

The Chinese government’s action on Anbang, along with the announcement that its chairman was being prosecuted for economic crimes, dramatically illustrated Beijing’s willingness to curtail big-spending conglomerates as it cracks down on financial risk.

Analysts and lawyers do not think the maneuver heralds a coming wave of nationalizations, but said the sudden seizure of Anbang sent a strong message and raised questions about the future of its assets.

Anbang, which claims 1.97 trillion yuan (US$312.3 billion) in assets and ranks 139th on the Global Fortune 500 list, had spent billions of US dollars on overseas acquisitions in recent years, including US$1.95 billion in 2015 for New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel.

The once-aggressively acquisitive company later agreed to pay US$6.5 billion for Strategic Hotels and Resorts.

In South Korea, Anbang acquired Tongyang Life Insurance in 2015, and later completed its acquisition of Allianz Korea.

In Europe, Anbang Life acquired Vivat, the Dutch insurer in 2015, after buying Fidea insurance in Belgium a year earlier. The company has also acquired Retirement Concepts, the largest retirement home chain in British Columbia, Canada.

Sino-Ocean Group Holding Ltd, a property firm, on Sunday said it had received a written notice from Anbang saying the insurance group had no plans to alter its stake.

Anbang as of June 30 last year held 29.97 percent of Sino-Ocean Group. Anbang also has significant stakes in a slew of major Chinese companies and late on Friday, some of the companies said they had received similar notices from Anbang assuring them that there would not be immediate stake sales.

Among them were China Minsheng Banking Corp (中國民生銀行), China Merchants Bank Co (招商銀行) and developers China Vanke Co (萬科) and Gemdale Corp (金地).

The Chinese crackdown on risk in the insurance sector continued over the weekend.

The CIRC on Saturday said it would force three major insurers — Ping An Insurance (Group) Co of China Ltd (中國平安保險集團), New China Life Insurance (新華保險) and China Re Asset Management Co (中再資產管理) — to take steps to deal with overseas investments that had violated regulations.

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