Here’s what Anbang can put on the block as deals unwind
Anbang Insurance

HONG KONG • As Anbang Insurance Group Co comes under pressure to reverse a US$10 billion (RM42.8 billion)-plus global deal spree, a quick selldown of assets may not be so easy.

China is said to have asked the acquisitive insurer to sell its over- seas assets, which include a formidable array of holdings spanning trophy hotels in the US to financial firms in Europe and Asia. When it comes to holdings in financial firms — like insurers or banks — delays could include national regulators wanting to vet sales processes. Many of the firm’s assets are illiquid and can’t be unloaded quickly without losses, said Christopher Beddor, an associate at Eurasia Group.

A fire-sale might “spook the company’s policyholders or prove politically embarrassing to Chinese officials”, Beddor said.

Chinese authorities have asked Anbang to sell assets and bring the proceeds back home, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. Anbang hasn’t received such a request and “at present has no plans to sell its overseas assets”, the company said in an emailed statement.

The single biggest asset: Chicago-based firm Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc, which Anbang acquired in a deal valued at about US$6.5 billion. The group boasts hotels such as San Francisco’s Westin St Francis and JW Marriott Essex House in New York, the Manhattan hotel near Central Park known for the red-lettered sign on its roof.

Also eye-catching: New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria, bought for US$1.95 billion, but now closed for renovations that will convert most of the property into luxury condominiums. One twist, if Anbang wants to sell, is that the previous owner, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, has a 100-year agreement to operate the hotel.

High-profile sites in the US also include the Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, site of Anbang’s US headquarters, which the firm acquired from Blackstone Group LP.

The stakes in financial firms include Tongyang Life Insurance Co in South Korea and a bank and an insurer in Belgium.

Some analysts already have ideas about potential contenders, including Blackstone, the world’s largest manager of alternative assets, which previously owned some of the US holdings. Lukas Hartwich, at Green Street Advisors LLC, pointed to sovereign wealth funds and Blackstone as potential purchasers of leading hotels. He called the Waldorf Astoria “more of a turnaround play to return the hotel to its former glory”.

In the case of at least one business, in South Korea, a legal dispute may be an extra complication. In June, Yuanta Securities Korea Co Ltd disclosed that Anbang and the former owners of Tongyang Life were arguing in an international arbitration court in Hong Kong. Facing a claim for 59.7 billion won (RM226.86 million), Anbang responded with a counterclaim for 698 billion won, Yuanta, a party to the case, said.

Large assets held by Anbang include:

Strategic Hotels & Resorts inc, based in Chicago (100% owned) — Deal valued at about US$6.5 billion at time of agreement; acquired September 2016; and owns about 15 hotels, including marquee assets like San Francisco’s Westin St Francis (valued at US$1 billion by Real Capital Analytics Inc), JW Marriott Essex House in New York (US$705 million) and the InterContinental Chicago (US$508 million).

Waldorf astoria Hotel in New York (100% owned) — Paid US$1.95 billion; acquired February 2015; and condo conversion started in March will take about three years.

InnVest Real Estate investment Trust, one of Canada’s largest hotel owners — Stated acquirer was Bluesky Hotels & Resorts Inc, which may have ties to Anbang, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time; paid C$2.1 billion (RM6.85 billion); and acquired in May 2016.

Vivat NV, Utrecht, Netherlands — Paid €1 (RM5.06) for initial acquisition, agreed to invest €1.35 billion to recapitalise company; acquired in July 2015; Anbang used Vivat to purchase more than €500 million of office properties in cities including Amsterdam and Utrecht from Blackstone, people with knowledge of the matter said in October 2016; and the Dutch unit also acquired US$1.1 billion of residential mortgages from Rabobank in deal announced in March 2016.

Tongyang Life insurance Co in South Korea — Paid more than 1.1 trillion won (RM4.18 billion) for controlling stake; and acquired in September 2015.

Bentall Centre in Vancouver (100% owned) — Bought in two stages; terms not disclosed; and agreed in May 2016 to buy remaining 33% in a deal valuing the complex at more than C$1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Fidea NV, Antwerp, Belgium — Paid €369 million; and acquired in May 2015.

717 Fifth avenue in New York, Anbang’s US headquarters — Office portion 100%-owned; paid about US$415 million and acquired around May 2015.

• Delta Lloyd Bank, Brussels, Belgium — Paid €206 million; acquired in July 2015; and now known as Nagelmackers.

70 York Street in Toronto, 17-storey office building (100% owned) — Paid C$110 million; and acquired in September 2015.

Allianz SE’s insurance operations in South Korea — Paid €1.6 million; and acquired in December 2016. — Bloomberg