China’s Anbang Acquired Allianz’s South Korea Operations After Dropping Its Bid for Starwood Hotels

By Staff Writer

Apr 07, 2016 09:46 AM EDT

China's Anbang Insurance Group Co. has agreed to buy German insurance company Allianz's units of operation in South Korea. The deal was made after Anbang pulled out of bidding war with Marriott to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Under the deal, the Chinese company will pay more than $3 million for Allianz's operations in South Korea, including Life Insurance Korea and asset management firm Allianz Global Investors Korea. The deal with Allianz is relatively small in comparison to Anbang's latest bid of $14 billion for Starwood. 

According to Reuters, Allianz is selling its South Korean operations as a part of global overhaul in a tough low-interest rate environment. Allianz's CEO Oliver Baete had been reviewing the company's units in South Korea in efforts to map its businesses profitability. The company is trying to focus on developing businesses with the most profits and release the less-profitable ones. Baete has determined the cutoff, whereas affiliates that failed to achieve return on equity of at least 10 percent would be put on sale.

Anbang, on the other hand, has been pushing to expand and establish its business and profile in the international scene. In recent years, the groups has been spending billions to acquire other establishments across the globe, from insurers to hotels, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Last year, the company paid the highest price for a singe U.S. hotel with nearly $2 billion for New York's Waldorf-Astoria.

Anbang's latest bid to acquire Starwood had reached $14 billion. The company was involved in a bidding war with U.S. luxury-hotel owner Marriott International Inc. However, Anbang pulled out from the bidding last week due to "various market considerations," according to the company's statement.

In South Korea alone, Anbang had made an acquisition transaction before. A year ago, the company bought a controlling stake in life insurer Tong Yang Life Insurance Co. from private equity firm Vogo Investment and other investors for $1 billion.

As for now, Anbang's deal to acquire Allianz operations in South Korea is waiting for pending approval from the country's financial regulator Financial Services Commission, as reported by Yonhap News Agency. Allianz Life Insurance Korea is the country's 11th-largest life insurance company, with 16.65 trillion won assets per 2015.

After dropping its $14 billion offer for Starwood hotels, China's insurer Anbang formed a deal to buy Allianz's operations in South Korea. Anbang is continuing its pursue to expand businesses globally, while Allianz is selling the South Korea units due to less-than-expected performances. 

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