Bankers are salivating over Anbang hitting the sale block

China's crackdown has forced HNA and CEFC to sell off assets

Wu Xiaohui
Wu Xiaohui (Credit: Getty Images)

As China looks to sell all or part of Anbang Insurance Group, the conglomerate it seized in February, investment banks are lining up to get a piece of the action.

Regulators and company officials are interviewing advisers who will be tasked with arranging the sale of all — or parts — of the company, Bloomberg reported. Anbang’s global buying spree — which included the $1.95 billion acquisition of the Waldorf Astoria in 2014 — ended last year after the debt-laden company was seized by the Chinese government.

In February, the Chinese government said it would consider “all or partial” sales of Anbang’s assets. Despite the government takeover, an affiliate of Anbang filed an offering plan for 352 condominiums at the Waldorf in March.

China’s crackdown on aggressive overseas investors has prompted other companies to dispose of assets. HNA Group is selling billions of dollars worth of hotels and property and CEFC China Energy Co. plans to sell its property portfolio, valued at $3.2 billion.

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In Anbang’s case, Chairman Wu Xiaohui was detained last year as the government accelerated its crackdown. He was later accused of orchestrating a $10.4 billion scheme to use unauthorized sales of investment policies to give Anbang more cash to spend.

Officially, Anbang has no plans to sell its assets. But according to Bloomberg, advisors may line up investors to purchase a stake in the company.

Earlier this month, China said it would inject capital into Anbang to protect policy holders’ interests. “Significant asset dispositions should be expected,” said Brock Silvers, managing director at Kaiyuan Capital.

The Chinese government has been looking to sell a stake in Anbang since January. Last week, regulators said Anbang is looking for an injection of private capital, and would start selecting strategic advisors. [Bloomberg]E.B. Solomont