University professor expresses concern over retirement home deal with Anbang

Expert is worried after China seizes control of the firm

University professor expresses concern over retirement home deal with Anbang

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

A UBC international relations professor in Canada said that the federal government “screwed up” when it approved the sale of retirement homes in British Columbia to a Chinese insurer.

Controversial Anbang has since been taken over by its home country’s government.

Last year, Ottawa greenlit the sale of Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts to the Chinese company. In the same year, Anbang also purchased Bentall Centre, a collection of blue-chip towers in Vancouver.

But just last week, the Chinese government accused Anbang’s chairman of committing financial crimes, culminating in the nation taking direct control of the company.

Michael Byers, Canada research chair in global politics and international law at UBC, told Global News that with the Chinese government in charge of Anbang, the sale is a troubling development.

“Right now, we have the Chinese government owning the largest retirement home company in British Columbia and owning the largest office complex in downtown Vancouver,” Byers explained.

“Should we be concerned about that? Probably.”

Byers also noted that even at the time of the sale, Anbang’s ownership structure was brought to question.

“Normally, if you’re overseeing, regulating a sale, you want to have a clear paper trail, you want to know exactly what’s involved,” the professor remarked. “And this one involved a lot of murkiness, and yet the minister, Minister [Navdeep] Bains, approved it nevertheless.”

Although Canada currently has a friendly trade relationship with China, there is no guarantee that will continue, Byers warned. He also prefaced that even the US had to weigh its options when it approved the sale of assets to Anbang, with the country actually blocking the sale of several assets due to national security implications.

Byers also commented that Anbang could hold the retirement homes hostage and could shut them as a punitive measure should China ever enter into a trade or military dispute with Canada.


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