Listed companies in which Anbang Insurance Group owns significant stakes fell on Wednesday after the insurer acknowledged that chairman Wu Xiaohui, who has been detained by authorities, is “unable to perform its duties”.
安邦保险集团(Anbang Insurance Group)持股量较大的多家上市公司的股价周三出现下跌。此前，安邦承认已被当局带走的董事长吴小晖“不能履职”。
Anbang had used proceeds from the sale of high-yielding investment products — known as “universal insurance” policies — to buy public and private equity in China and abroad.
The detention of Mr Wu casts doubt on the company’s future and raises the prospect that it may be forced to sell stakes to meet upcoming maturities or early redemptions by nervous policyholders.
Anbang ranked among the 10 largest shareholders in 18 mainland-listed companies at the end of March, with its stakes worth a combined Rmb1.06tn ($155bn), according to data compiled from Wind Information.
The biggest loser on Wednesday was Shanghai-listed property developer Gemdale Corp, in which Anbang owns 20 per cent stake of tradeable shares, which fell 3.4 per cent.
China Vanke, the country’s second-largest residential property developer by sales, was down 2.2 per cent at midday in Shenzhen. Anbang built up its Vanke stake in 2015 as part of a high-profile boardroom battle in which Anbang rival Baoneng Group sought to gain control of the developer.
按销售额计为中国第二大住宅地产开发商的万科(China Vanke)，在深市收跌2.95%。2015年，在一场高调的董事会争斗战中，安邦增持了万科的股份，当时安邦与竞争对手宝能(Baoneng Group)试图获得万科的控制权。
China Merchants Bank, China’s eighth-largest bank by assets, fell 1.3 per cent in Shanghai. China Minsheng Banking Corp, the country’s tenth-largest lender, dropped 0.9 per cent.
Mr Wu has long sought control of a large commercial bank, market observers say. That would have allowed Anbang to consolidate the bank’s balance sheet with Anbang’s and use the lender’s funding base to finance acquisitions. Anbang has controlled small, unlisted Chengdu Rural Commercial Bank since 2011.
市场观察人士称，长期以来，吴小晖一直寻求控股一家大型商业银行，这会让安邦得以将该银行的资产负债表与安邦的整合在一起，并利用这家银行的供资基础为并购提供所需资金。自2011年以来，安邦已控股规模较小、未上市的成都农商行(Chengdu Rural Commercial Bank)。
But the detention of Mr Wu and a broader regulatory crackdown on universal insurance raises doubts about Anbang’s ability to remain a stock market juggernaut.
Anbang and other insurers rely at least in part on new products in order to raise money needed to meet redemptions and maturities on universal policies. But last month China’s insurance regulator banned Anbang from introducing products for three months as a penalty for “wreaking havoc” on the market with aggressive sales tactics and risky instruments.
A similar punishment meted out to Baoneng subsidiary Foresea Life Insurance in December prompted Foresea to plead with regulators to resume approval of new products. Foresea cited risk of social unrest if a protracted ban on new product sales forced the company to default on payouts due to customers.
去年12月，宝能子公司前海人寿(Foresea Life Insurance)受到类似的惩罚，前海被迫恳请监管机构恢复新产品审批。前海指出，若长时间禁止销售新产品导致该公司无法及时支付应付给客户的资金，可能会引发社会动荡。
In recent years, China’s insurance regulator significantly loosened longstanding restrictions on what kinds of investments insurers are allowed to make, paving the way for aggressive moves by Anbang, Foresea and others into the domestic stock market and foreign acquisitions.
But in recent months, Chinese regulators also have warned insurers not to engage in activist shareholding or interfere with management of listed companies.
Problems at Anbang could also hit demand for global private equity, for which Anbang emerged as a frequent bidder for trophy assets. Anbang bought property assets from Blackstone in a string of deals since 2014, including the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.