Global insurer hints at possible Europe acquisition spree

Insurance firm has spent over £24 billion in the past two years, snapping up insurers, luxury hotels and other properties

Global insurer hints at possible Europe acquisition spree

Insurance News

By Louie Bacani

Seemingly untroubled by political and economic uncertainties in the region, the chairman of China’s Anbang Insurance Group has hinted at the possibility of acquiring European businesses.
Reuters reports that Anbang Chairman Wu Xiaohui is bullish on making investments in Europe, despite issues like refugee crisis, financial challenges and rising populism.
According to the report, Wu said European assets are “very cheap” and that Chinese investors can take advantage of cheap funding to acquire companies with good technology.

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“If we combine Europe with China, I believe the chance of a black swan will be very small,” Wu said at the China Development Forum on Saturday, as quoted by Reuters.
The news agency noted that a “black swan” is an event that is extremely difficult to predict as it happens beyond expected patterns or norms of a given situation.
A potential series of acquisitions in Europe would contradict the previous comments of Anbang vice chairman Yao Dafeng, who suggested that their overseas buying spree might abate. However, he said the company will still seek acquisitions as its premium growth remains strong enough to finance new deals.
“We want to build up the existing synergies a bit first, and consider new deals when appropriate opportunities emerge,” Bloomberg quoted Yao as saying in September 2016. “You can’t just keep buying every day. You need to also digest and absorb.”
The Beijing-based insurer has spent more than US$30 billion (over £24 billion) in the past two years, acquiring insurance companies, luxury hotels and other properties, according to Reuters.
Now among China’s most aggressive overseas acquirers, Anbang has been involved in major deals including the purchases of Belgian insurer Fidea and a banking unit of Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd. In the US, the Asian insurer also bought New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel and tried to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
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