April 12, 2018 / 3:24 PM / 2 years ago

China’s Anbang, eyeing asset sales, start talks with banks: source

People enter the office of Anbang Insurance Group in Beijing, China, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BEIJING (Reuters) - Anbang Insurance Group Co, once among China’s most aggressive overseas dealmakers that has been seized by the government, is in talks with investment banks to advise it on selling some businesses, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The Chinese government took temporary control of Anbang, the owner of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, in February and said its chairman had been prosecuted for economic crimes, as Beijing cracks down on risks to the country’s financial system.

Under the government’s watch, Anbang’s [ANBANG.UL] equity structure is to be overhauled, with a capital injection from private strategic investors. The insurance giant will maintain normal operations during the revamp.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the matter, that the Chinese insurer had held interviews with investment banks to advise on potential asset divestments. It said Anbang may also get advice to find the new investors.

An Anbang spokesman said on Friday the company currently does not have a plan to sell assets.

The source declined to be named as the process is not public.

Anbang, which began to run into roadblocks after a spate of high-profile deals worth over $30 billion, has said it fully supports the government’s plan and remains committed to the development of its overseas subsidiaries.

In the United States, Beijing-based Anbang bought the Waldorf Astoria for $1.95 billion in 2014.

Besides Waldorf, Anbang’s overseas assets include Tongyang Life Insurance (082640.KS) in South Korea, which it acquired in 2015, Dutch insurer Vivat, and Retirement Concepts, the retirement home chain in British Columbia, Canada.

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Ryan Woo; Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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