Blackstone is in early talks to buy billions in real estate from Anbang

Private equity firm could buy back Waldorf Astoria, Essex House, Intercontinental Miami

Jonathan Gray and the Waldorf Astoria
Jonathan Gray and the Waldorf Astoria

The Blackstone Group may soon have a chance to buy back the Waldorf Astoria from Anbang Insurance Group, according to a new report.

The private equity firm has held initial talks about bidding for Anbang’s assets in a sale overseen by the Chinese government, Bloomberg reported.

Those assets include the Waldorf, which Blackstone sold to Anbang for $1.95 billion in 2016, and the 16 properties in the Strategic Hotels and Resorts portfolio, which Anbang bought for $6.5 billion. That portfolio also includes the Essex House and the Intercontinental Miami.

Blackstone’s talks are in the early stage, and the company could decide not to bid on any of the assets, a source told Bloomberg.

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Anbang closed the Waldorf in the spring as it got started on a planned $2 billion condominium conversion of some of the iconic hotel’s 1,000 rooms.

Blackstone was one of the biggest benefactors of Anbang’s spending spree, having sold at least $9.5 billion worth of assets to the insurer. But the Chinese government has cracked down on overseas spending. And after Anbang Chairman Wu Xiaohui was detained by authorities in June, a team including China’s insurance regulator went to Anbang to oversee the company’s operations ensure its stability, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

The Chinese government is also looking to broker the sale of Anbang.

Chinese companies that made big acquisitions over the past few years are now beginning to try to sell their properties off. HNA Group is looking to sell $4 billion worth of U.S. properties, including 245 Park Avenue, which it bought just last year for $2.21 billion. [Bloomberg]Rich Bockmann