2018-02-23 — bloomberg.com
With the temporary takeover of Anbang Insurance Group Co. by China's government, real estate buyers are eyeing marquee properties from New York to California acquired in a global shopping spree.
The insurer, like its fellow Chinese investor HNA Group Co., went on a multibillion-dollar buying binge over the past few years, grabbing properties including Manhattan's Waldorf Astoria hotel, which it acquired three years ago for a record $1.95 billion, and Strategic Hotels & Resorts, a luxury-lodgings owner with locations in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Other purchases included 717 Fifth Ave. in New York, a 26-story office building that's home to Anbang's U.S. headquarters.
"... there would be plenty of very interested and well-capitalized buyers -- some looking at individual assets or markets, some potentially interested in the entire portfolio," said Michael Bellisario, senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. "When you pair a motivated seller and well-capitalized buyers searching to put money to work, that's a good combo to see assets clear."
The Chinese government said Friday that it took temporary control of Anbang and will prosecute founder Wu Xiaohui for alleged fraud, cementing the downfall of a dealmaker whose aggressive global expansion came to symbolize the overreach of the country's debt-laden conglomerates. The government said it would consider "all or partial" sales of Anbang's assets, without providing more details.
One company that benefited from Anbang's fast expansion was Blackstone Group LP -- the world's biggest private equity investor in real estate and a major seller of property to Anbang, including the Strategic properties and 717 Fifth -- and it could benefit again should the insurer unwind its holdings.
Blackstone has held initial discussions about bidding for Anbang assets, including Strategic and the Waldorf, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.
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