During the three year takeover binge that Anbang Insurance Group has been on, the group has managed to notch up more than $10 billion of foreign acquisitions.
These acquisitions brought Chairman Wu Xiaohu into the orbit of Wall Street and Washington elites before coming to a halt as Chinese authorities moved to rein in acquisitive insurers.
As of now, Wu isn’t calling the shots and his responsibilities have now been handed over to other senior executives. Further, Chinese authorities have also asked banks not to go ahead with some business dealings with Anbang Insurance Group after the chairman was detained. The move makes Wu the latest of several tycoons to run afoul of officials cracking down on financial risk-taking.
Wu rise and fall have been phenomenal. He burst onto the US scene in October 2014, with the record $1.95-billion agreement to buy New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel. Five months later, he took on Marriott International with an 11th-hour rival bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, before walking away a few weeks later. Wu bought real estate and financial services companies in Asia, Europe and North America, including the purchase of Strategic Hotels & Resorts as well as an office building in midtown Manhattan to house Anbang’s US headquarters.
The list of deals Anbang didn’t complete is about as long. Besides Starwood Hotels, Anbang failed to complete a purchase of Fidelity & Guaranty Life last April and talks for a potential investment in a Manhattan office building co-owned by the family of President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner broke off in March. In Europe, deals involving Anbang that didn’t go ahead include Portugal’s Novo Banco, Hypo Real Estate in Germany and Heron Tower in London.