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Chinese Government Takes Control Of Anbang And Prosecutes Chairman

The Waldorf Astoria, New York

The Chinese government has moved to take control of Anbang, the insurance company that went on a $9.5B global real estate spree over the past few years, and will prosecute its founder for alleged fraud.

Chinese regulators announced the takeover on the company’s website, while Shanghai prosecutors announced that Chairman Wu Xiaohui would face charges, according to Bloomberg

Anbang is one of the companies that had already been facing huge scrutiny from regulators, as the Chinese government seeks to limit debt-backed foreign investment to preserve domestic capital levels and ensure financial stability.

Speculation had arisen that Anbang would be forced to sell assets, potentially including its real estate trophy, New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, which it bought from then Blackstone-owned Hilton for $1.95B in February 2015.

Blackstone was linked as a possible buyer, but as recently as last week Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said the Waldorf would not have to be sold.

The Chinese government's announcement mentioned potential asset sales but was not specific. It said that if assets could be sold and the company stabilized it could be returned to private ownership after around a year.

As well as the Waldorf, Anbang bought Strategic Hotels & Resorts from Blackstone for $6.5B, and also bought close to $900M of Dutch offices and hotels from the private equity giant.

In March Anbang pulled out of a deal to invest $400M in a $4B recapitalization of Kushner Cos.’ 666 Fifth Ave.