The fall of a 'miracle concern'
beijing - It was no matter if, but when a cesspool around Anbang would open. For years, research has been conducted into the shadowy financial trade and walking of the Chinese insurance giant, owner of the Dutch company Vivat, and now Beijing has intervened hard by taking control of the company. CEO Wu Xiaohui is being prosecuted for fraud.
It could not be done at Anbang for years. Where China was increasingly struggling to achieve its growth ambitions, the top of the miracle group lavished money with money.
In 2013, after the nationalization of SNS Reaal, the Dutch government disposed of Vivat for the symbolic amount of € 1, provided that some bidder Anbang would make a capital injection. That came from € 1.35 billion.
It did not stop there. Three years ago, Anbang, which has its headquarters in Beijing, bought the famous and super deluxe Waldorf Astoria in New York, for the amount of € 1.75 billion, the highest amount ever paid for a hotel.
Vivat- including the brands Reaal and Zwitserleven- was enlisted by a glutton, a caterpillar-never-enough. In a little more than ten years, the company turned into one of the largest insurers in China, but the company also moved more and more across the borders. The company wanted nothing less than to conquer the world.
In his visits to China, Dutch Vivat CEO Ron van Ooijen always faced him at events and dinners, pointing to a high position within the company.
'Within ten years we are on every continent,' Chairman Wu said ambitiously a few years ago. But Anbang, which means 'safe haven', is no longer a boss at home. The Chinese regulator has taken over control because the debt burden is sky-high and seems to have become insoluble. Wu has not been a top man since last year.
Anbang arranges financing for, among other things, life insurance, pensions and health insurance. And does asset management for clients who want a higher return than they get from Chinese banks. Many companies also stow their cash at Anbang, which it then invests outside the country's borders.
But the Chinese government has been doing everything it can to prevent mass Chinese money from crossing the border- because it loses sight. The fear is great that money is laundered.
Another acquisition giant, the real estate multinational Wanda Group, also invested outside the Chinese borders for many years, but recently saw more and more foreign assets. For example, recently all shares in the Spanish top football club Atlético Madrid were sold off. Other financial giants such as Fosun and HNA have also been monitored for some time.
Wanda says he wants to invest more in his own country, because foreign investment is not very successful, but it seems that the group has given in to the pressure that the central government exerted on its investors. Over topman Wang Jianlin even claimed that he was under house arrest and was not allowed to leave the country, but that was always denied by the leadership.
Wu, on the other hand, seems to be deeply in trouble. For a long time, especially because of his marriage to the daughter of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, he seemed untouchable, but now seems to have fallen off his pedestal. He is being prosecuted for 'economic crimes'.
Which shows that, as Beijing always claims, in the fight against corruption not only is hunting on flies, but also on tigers.
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