China's Anbang Insurance to make over $1 billion bid for Japan's Simplex: sources

August 8
7:50 AM 2015

China's Anbang Insurance Group Co is bidding to buy Japanese property asset manager Simplex Investment Advisors, four people with knowledge of the bid said, in a deal that could top $1 billion.

If successful, Simplex would be Anbang's first real estate foray into Japan where the market has been booming on the back of the economic stimulus policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Chinese insurer, however, is up against other bidders for the property asset manager being put up for sale by U.S. property investment fund Aetos Capital Real Estate.

These competitors include U.S. investment fund Fortress Investment Group (FIG.N), Blackstone Group (BX.N), and Elliot Management, people with knowledge of the matter had told Reuters.

"There are several competitors," said a source close to Anbang. "The outcome is uncertain."

Executives at Anbang and Simplex declined to comment.

Japanese property firms Hulic Co (3003.T) and Kenedix Inc (4321.T) were also shortlisted for the second bidding round of bidding, which is expected to close by the end of this month, the sources had said.

Privately owned Anbang, which has total assets worth more than 800 billion yuan, has over the past year emerged as one of China's biggest offshore buyers of financial institutions.

In February, it closed a $1.95 billion deal to buy New York's landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel.

It has also so far bought the Belgian banking operations of Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd NV, Belgian insurer Fidea Assurance and Dutch insurer Vivatal.

Earlier this year, it also agreed to pay $1 billion to buy a controlling stake in South Korea's Tong Yang Life Insurance. 092640.KS

Anbang Chairman Wu Xiaohui has said he wants the insurer to own companies in "all the world's continents". He has also said he intends to list the insurer on a number of global capital markets.

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