February 6, 2018 / 11:16 PM / 2 months ago

Genworth, Oceanwide renew application for $2.7 billion merger assent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Genworth Financial Inc (GNW.N) said Tuesday its application for assent to a takeover by China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co Ltd (000046.SZ) had been refiled, after agreeing changes the duo hope will alleviate U.S. regulatory concerns.

The transaction, first announced in October 2016 and valuing the U.S. insurer at $2.7 billion, has been repeatedly delayed by an inability to secure the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which screens foreign takeovers of American companies for national security issues.

While CFIUS has not killed all deals involving Chinese buyers in recent times - at least a handful were approved in 2017 - the panel has been increasingly skeptical of Chinese transactions under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Genworth and Oceanwide had refiled their CFIUS application and provided the group with “detailed information about an additional data security risk mitigation proposal involving a U.S. third-party service provider”, according to Genworth’s fourth-quarter earnings statement.

It provided no further information on what the data security measures entail. Analysts have said previously that CFIUS is likely concerned by the prospect of potential access by Chinese state actors to Americans’ personal information.

Genworth also said Tuesday that it would seek secured debt to address an upcoming maturity, given the delay in securing approval for the acquisition, with further details to be announced “upon the planned launch in the near future”.

    The insurer had warned in October it was evaluating options, including asset sales and debt refinancing, to address around $600 million of debt coming due in May 2018.

    It is the third refiling of the CFIUS application by Genworth and Oceanwide. The government body has 75 days from the submission date to approve the deal, although if no conclusion is reached in that time then the merging parties can withdraw and refile their application and start a new 75-day clock.

    Genworth and Oceanwide extended the deadline to conclude the deal for a second time in November to allow for CFIUS approval to be secured. The current deadline is April 1.

    Reporting by David French and Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Susan Thomas

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