The Beijing-based firm has offered $12.8 billion for U.S. hotel operator Starwood (>> Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc) and also agreed this month to pay Blackstone Group (>> Blackstone Group LP) $6.5 billion for Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc, whose 16 luxury properties include the Four Seasons Washington D.C.
Established in 2004 as an automotive and property insurer by chairman Wu Xiaohui, a native of China's entrepreneurial coastal city Wenzhou, Anbang is looking to use its 1.65 trillion yuan ($253 billion) in assets to transform into a worldwide investor.
"Anbang will have a global footprint. In 10 years, Anbang will have companies on all the world's continents," Wu, who is 49 and married to Deng Zhuorui, a granddaughter of Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping, told students at Harvard University last year.
Business associates describe Wu as passionate, impatient and very ambitious. He often travels by private jet accompanied by a retinue of assistants.
His acquisition strategy is underpinned by an aggressive pursuit of yield-producing companies, those business associates say, funded by cash from selling insurance products and other sources.
In October 2014, Anbang agreed to pay $1.95 billion for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, a move Wu said brought the insurer "extra brand recognition" and business opportunities.
Last year, Anbang agreed to buy U.S. insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life (>> Fidelity & Guaranty Life) for $1.6 billion, and paid around $1 billion for South Korea's Tong Yang Life Insurance Co (>> Tong Yang Life Insurance Co Ltd). It has also bought control of Fidea, a Belgium based insurer, and the Belgian banking operations of Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd. It is in talks to buy Allianz's (>> Allianz SE) South Korean operations.
At home, Anbang has a leading stake in China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd (>> China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd)<1988.HK>, the country's biggest private lender, and is a significant shareholder in China Vanke Co (>> China Vanke Co., Ltd.)<2202.HK>, the largest residential property developer.
When he set up Anbang, Wu enlisted a small consortium of private and state investors led by Shanghai Automotive Industry Group Corp, the parent of a government-owned automaker that has ventures with General Motors (>> General Motors Company) and Volkswagen <VOWG.DE>. State-owned China Petrochemical Corp later bought a stake.
Anbang's original board included Levin Zhu, former CEO of China International Capital Corp and son of former premier Zhu Rongji, and Long Yongtu, China's chief negotiator when it joined the World Trade Organization. Wu also turned to Chen Xiaolu, a son of Chinese Marshal Chen Yi, for support.
Anbang holds licenses for selling property, life and health insurance, and operates an annuity insurance business and asset management arm. It doesn't publish group finances, but says its assets have more than doubled since December 2014.
Two subsidiaries, Anbang Life Insurance and Anbang Annuity Insurance, raised 49 billion yuan ($7.53 billion) in investment funds last year, mainly through selling high-yielding universal life insurance policies.
(Reporting by Matthew Miller and Michelle Price; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)
Stocks treated in this article : Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc
, Blackstone Group LP
, Allianz SE
, China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd
, China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd
, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co. Ltd
, Gemdale Corporation
, Financial Street Holding Co., Ltd.
, Beijing Homyear Capital Holdings Co Ltd
, Industrial and Coml Bank of China Ltd
, Tong Yang Life Insurance Co Ltd
, General Motors Company
, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd
, China Vanke Co., Ltd.
, Marriott International Inc
, Huishang Bank Corp Ltd
, Fidelity & Guaranty Life