Oct 17, 2018 10:37 AM

Temasek Held Talks for Stake in China's Anbang: Sources

Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Singapore’s state investment firm, Temasek Holdings Pte, has held talks with Chinese authorities about acquiring a stake in Anbang Insurance Group Co. as well as some of its assets, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Temasek has been examining a potential deal for several months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The S$308 billion ($224 billion) investment firm isn’t 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 rumors,” Temasek said in an emailed statement.

China Insurance Investment Co., a body that’s owned by some of the nation’s biggest insurance firms, is also considering investing in Anbang and is also in talks with regulators in that regard, 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. 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.

Officials at the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission didn’t immediately 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 wasn’t answered. A spokesperson for Anbang said the company doesn’t comment on market speculation.

The Chinese government has indicated fresh investors will eventually replace an industry security fund that injected 60.8 billion yuan ($8.8 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’s 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 & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., China Construction Bank Corp., Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. and Bank of China Ltd., data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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