Chinese regulators took control of Anbang Insurance Group, a private Chinese conglomerate best known for acquiring the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, on Feb 23 as its former chairman, Wu Xiaohui, is being prosecuted for economic crimes.
The China Insurance Regulatory Commission, the country’s top insurance regulator, said in a statement that Anbang’s business operations have violated regulations and laws, which could “seriously endanger” its solvency. Because of that, the regulator took over the insurer for one year to ensure normal business operations and to safeguard the interests of insurance consumers, the statement said.
A team comprising members of the commission and China’s central bank, as well as banking, securities and foreign-exchange regulators, will manage Anbang’s day-to-day business, the statement said.
During the takeover period, Anbang’s external liabilities will not be changed, the commission said, adding that operations of the group are stable and the interests of consumers and stakeholders have been protected.
In addition, the regulators will actively introduce good quality private capital to complete Anbang’s shareholding restructuring and will ensure that private ownership continues, the statement said.
Prosecutors filed a lawsuit earlier against Wu alleging fundraising fraud and embezzlement by taking advantage of his post, according to a statement on Feb 23 by the No 1 Branch of the Shanghai Municipal People’s Procuratorate.
The insurance commission began its investigation into Anbang in June last year. It sent an inspection team to the company and found that it was involved in illegal operations, according to the statement on Feb 23.
Wu was removed from his position as the group’s chairman, and the regulator ordered the insurer to improve its operations and management.
Anbang, known for a string of high-profile overseas acquisitions, has total assets of about 1.97 trillion yuan ($311 billion). It was ranked 139 on the Fortune Global 500 list last year, according to its website.
The group’s main businesses are property and casualty insurance, life insurance, insurance brokerage and asset management. It drew attention in 2014 for its $1.95 billion takeover of the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. It has also acquired assets in Belgium, the Nether-lands, Canada and South Korea.