Temasek said to have held talks for stake in Anbang

Anbang Insurance Group's overseas dealmaking in the years leading up to the government intervention saw the company rise from obscurity to become a famed acquirer of trophy assets, sometimes at excessive valuations.
Anbang Insurance Group's overseas dealmaking in the years leading up to the government intervention saw the company rise from obscurity to become a famed acquirer of trophy assets, sometimes at excessive valuations.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • Singapore investment company Temasek has held talks with the Chinese authorities about acquiring a stake in Anbang Insurance Group as well as some of its assets, people with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.

Temasek has been examining a potential deal for several months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.

The $308 billion investment firm is not currently in any active negotiations about an Anbang transaction, according to two people with knowledge of its deliberations.

"We do not comment on market speculations or rumours," Temasek said in an e-mailed statement.

China Insurance Investment Co, which is owned by some of the nation's biggest insurance firms, is also considering investing in Anbang and is in talks with regulators in that regard as well, some of the people said.

The interest from Temasek and China Insurance Investment indicates Beijing is making progress trying to find strategic investors for Anbang almost eight months after officials temporarily seized control of the insurer and put its chairman in jail for fraud.

Anbang's voracious overseas dealmaking in the years leading up to the government intervention saw the company rise from obscurity to become a famed acquirer of trophy assets, sometimes at excessive valuations.

The interest from Temasek and China Insurance Investment indicates Beijing is making progress trying to find strategic investors for Anbang almost eight months after officials temporarily seized control of the insurer and put its chairman in jail for fraud.

Officials at the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) did not respond to a request for comment. CBIRC would be one of the key bodies needed to approve such a deal.

A phone call to Shanghai-based China Insurance Investment seeking comment was not answered.

A spokesman for Anbang said the company does not comment on market speculation.

The Chinese government has indicated that fresh investors will eventually replace an industry security fund that injected 60.8 billion yuan (S$12 billion) of capital into Anbang in April to keep the Beijing-based insurer as a private business as opposed to a state-owned one.

 
 

It is as yet unclear how much Temasek or China Insurance Investment would be willing to pay for a part of Anbang, or how much of a stake they would look to take, the people said.

Temasek already has a number of investments in Chinese banks, a show of its confidence in the nation's huge and growing financial sector. Its interests include stakes in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Ping An Insurance (Group) and Bank of China, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2018, with the headline 'Temasek said to have held talks for stake in Anbang'. Print Edition | Subscribe