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Financials

China's Anbang wins CFIUS approval to buy Fidelity & Guaranty Life

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - China’s Anbang Insurance Group, which is looking to buy U.S. hotel operator Starwood , has won approval from a U.S. national security panel to buy U.S. annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life .

Fidelity & Guaranty Life said in a government filing on Tuesday that the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, had looked at the deal and “determined that there are no unresolved national security concerns.”

Anbang said in November that it would buy Fidelity & Guaranty for about $1.57 billion as Chinese insurers seek to expand into the United States. The deal would make Anbang one of the largest insurers by market share in fixed-indexed annuity products in the United States.

The filing said that Fidelity & Guaranty expected the deal to close in the second quarter of 2016.

On Monday, Anbang offered to buy Starwood for $12.8 billion, besting an offer made by Marriott International Inc’s.

That bid came just days after Anbang made a non-binding bid for Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc from buyout firm Blackstone Group LP for $6.5 billion.

Chinese insurers are rushing to acquire high-yielding assets as they struggle to keep up with the policy liabilities of the country’s aging population. U.S. assets are also seen as a good hedge against any future weakness in the yuan.

Anbang’s $2 billion acquisition of the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, which was completed last year, attracted CFIUS scrutiny but was approved.

The Starwood deal would also undergo a CFIUS review, primarily to ensure that none of its hotels are so close to sensitive U.S. facilities that they pose a threat to U.S. national security.

CFIUS, an inter-agency panel led by the Treasury Department, would likely scrutinize one property in particular: a W Hotel in downtown Washington that is across the street from the Treasury Department and overlooks both Treasury and the White House, CFIUS experts told Reuters.

That said, CFIUS issues with individual hotels could be remedied through asset sales or other measures, the experts said. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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