Debt-laden Anbang Insurance Group has agreed to sell its stake in a financing leasing firm for over $700 million, as it continues to shed assets after the government took over control of the company whose credit-fueled acquisition spree has threatened its solvency.
AB Life Insurance and Chengdu Rural Commercial Bank struck a deal on Tuesday to sell 100% of AB Leasing to Zhongyuan Bank, a small lender in the central province of Henan, and construction company Henan Wansong for 4.74 billion yuan ($705 million). The transaction will be completed within 20 working days after it receives regulatory approval, Zhongyuan Bank said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The buyers have also promised to hold AB Leasing for at least five year and will not use the stakes as collateral for borrowing.
Both AB Life Insurance and Chengdu Rural Commercial Bank are controlled by Anbang Insurance Group. Established in 2013, AB Leasing is a medium-sized financial leasing company in China. It had total net assets of 3.82 billion yuan at the end of June last year, up from 3.65 billion yuan as of the end of 2017, according to the Zhongyuan Bank filing.
The sale of AB Leasing underlines Chinese regulators’ effort to strip Anbang Insurance Group of its non-core financial assets to guide it to refocus on the insurance business. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission took over Anbang Insurance Group a year ago, with the goal of restructuring the business and protecting the interests of policyholders after an investigation into the company found violations of laws and regulations that threatened its solvency. The company’s founder and former chairman, Wu Xiaohui, was sentenced to 18 years in prison last year for fundraising fraud and embezzlement.