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Asia Minute: Why a Chinese Insurance Company is a Global Player in the Hospitality Business

bfishadow / Flickr
bfishadow / Flickr

There are new twists this week in a business deal that could involve nearly two-dozen hotel and time-share properties in Hawai‘i. Marriott International boosted its bid for Starwood Hotels and Resorts to $13.6 billion dollars. That tops the latest offer from a group of Chinese investors led by Anbang Insurance—a name you may be hearing more often in coming months. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Thirteen years ago, Anbang Insurance didn’t even exist.  Today its website says more than 30,000 employees serve 35-million clients.  For many Americans, the first awareness of Anbang came late in 2014—when it put down nearly $2-billion dollars to buy New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  However the bidding war turns out for Starwood…Anbang Insurance is a growing presence in the US luxury hotel market.

A little more than a week ago, reports started coming out that Anbang bought a number of high-end hotels from the private equity firm the Blackstone Group for $6.5-billlion dollars.  That list of pricey properties includes Four Seasons hotels in Washington DC, Silicon Valley and Jackson Hole Wyoming…as well as New York’s Essex House Hotel on Central Park South and a Ritz Carlton near San Francisco.

Anbang Insurance is also politically connected.  Chinese media reports the chairman married the granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping…and the father of a board member was a top general in the Peoples Liberation Army in revolutionary days.  Also, some financing of that proposed Starwood deal came from the state-run China Construction Bank…another sign that when it comes to international deals, Anbang Insurance is likely a name that will return.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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