Waldorf Astoria Owner Anbang Seized By The Chinese Regulators

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Waldorf Astoria in New York that was Hilton’s flagship property that closed its doors last year for renovations and condo conversions is probably soon looking for a new owner.

Anbang that was on a foreign shopping spree and bidding for the control of Starwood has been seized by the Chinese authorities. The insurance company owns several other hotel properties such as InterContinental Chicago, JW Marriott Essex House and Westin St. Francis via Strategic Hotels & resorts.

Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg (access here):

Anbang was a toxic threat to China’s financial system after a debt-fueled global acquisition spree — including trophy assets such as New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel — that was funded by the sale of high-yield insurance policies. Those risky products propelled the company from obscurity into the ranks of the country’s biggest insurers in the space of a few years.

The government will take temporary control of Anbang for a year starting Friday and prosecute its founder Wu Xiaohui for “economic crimes,” the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said in a statement. Wu, who was the company’s chairman, was detained in June.

Conclusion

This Anbang had really convoluted ownership structure too (difficult to find out who the real owners and beneficiaries were) and it appeared to be paying a real premium for these overseas assets it acquired. Let’s see where these hotel assets end up auctioned to and at what price.

Interesting to see what will happen with HNA that has also acquired quite a few hotel assets such as Radisson, part of Hilton and Spain’s NH Hotels.

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