China’s Anbang to explore sale of Belgian insurer Fidea

SINGAPOREAnbang Insurance Group Co is exploring a sale of Belgian insurer Fidea, people with knowledge of the matter said, in what would be the troubled Chinese insurer’s rst European divestment since it was seized by the government.

Beijing-based Anbang has asked investment banks to pitch for a role in managing a potential sale of Fidea, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. It is considering starting a formal auction process as soon as the third quarter, the people said.

Fidea, formerly owned by JC Flowers & Co, was bought by Anbang in May 2015 for €369 million (RM1.85 billion), according to the annual report that year from the Chinese company’s life-insurance arm. Deliberations on a potential sale are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said.

Anbang shot to fame after snapping up assets around the world, before the government seized it in February for at least a year amid President Xi Jinping’s campaign to curb risks in the financial system. The insurer’s former chairman, Wu Xiaohui, was sentenced in May to 18 years in prison after being convicted of fundraising fraud and embezzlement.

Any deal would add to the US$13 billion (RM52 billion) in acquisitions of European insurance assets announced this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Athora Holding Ltd, the insurance business backed by Apollo Global Management LLC, agreed in April to buy Assicurazioni Generali SpA’s Belgian unit for about €540 million and has said it’s seeking to grow further.

Anbang’s other holdings in Europe include Dutch insurer Vivat NV and Belgian lender Bangue Nagelmackers SA. — Bloomberg