Chinese insurance giant Anbang said to seek bank pitches for IPO

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese owner of New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel, has asked banks to pitch for role on a planned Hong Kong initial public offering next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Beijing-based insurance giant asked investment banks to submit proposals by the end of this week, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The listing may include Anbang's domestic life- insurance operations as well as many of its overseas businesses, two of the people said.

Anbang, led by Chairman Wu Xiaohui, is considering first raising funds through a pre-IPO private placement in the coming months, according to one person.  The proposed listing would be an important step forward for Anbang's transparency, shedding some light on the insurer's ownership structure while also providing an offshore war chest to fund further expansion.

Anbang has been the most active overseas dealmaker among Chinese insurers, announcing at least US$13.5 billion (S$ 18.2 billion) of acquisitions over the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A representative for Anbang said he couldn't immediately comment.

Anbang was leading an investor group earlier this year that abruptly pulled a US$14 billion takeover offer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, clearing the way for an acquisition by Marriott International.  The Chinese company agreed last November to buy US insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life for US$1.6 billion and this year reached a deal to purchase Strategic Hotels & Resorts from Blackstone Group for about US$6.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.