Just Who Exactly Controls Anbang Insurance?
Yet, despite its headline-grabbing deals, little is known about the company, an entity almost shrouded in secrecy. Ownership is opaque, and no one is quite sure where it gets its money.
Here's what we do know.
Since launching in '04, the insurance company started expanding like crazy two years ago when its parent companies—close to 40 total—poured billions into Anbang's checkbooks.
“Any time somebody in China magically snaps their fingers and has a lot of money, in this case a colossal amount of money, that sets off red flags for me,” Christopher Balding, associate professor of economics at Peking University, tells the New York Times.
“In China, when people are hiding this amount of information, it’s for a reason.”
Despite the veil of silence, some details have emerged. Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui (pictured, left) has links to the most powerful families in China. He married the granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping, the former leader of the country.
Notoriously media shy, his fortune is hidden inside the 37 firms that control Anbang, according to the New York Times.
And an Anbang director, Chen Xiaolu, is the son of a famous military commander who fought alongside Mao Zedong—he is also top officer of four of the Anbang companies.
Beyond that, it's hard to tell who really owns—or controls—the firm.
However, last year, a Chinese media source identified two people listed as directors or shareholders in the firm’s 37 companies as Wu Xiaohui’s siblings.
The news was later removed from the newspaper’s website, and the media outlet issued Anbang an apology for unspecified “innacurracies” in the article. [NYT]