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Anbang further consolidates shareholdings under life unit

Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. has transferred more company stakes to its life insurance subsidiary in a move that one industry expert said was likely aimed at boosting the unit's solvency.

Three Anbang Group subsidiaries — Anbang Property & Casualty Insurance Co. Ltd., Anbang Annuity Insurance Co. Ltd. and Anbang Asset Management Co. Ltd. — on Oct. 16 transferred a combined 3.13% stake in China Vanke Co. Ltd. to Anbang Life Insurance Co. Ltd. The three units have no remaining shares in China Vanke following the transaction, which came after Anbang Group's Hexie Health Insurance Co. Ltd. passed its 1.01% stake in Vanke to Anbang Life in late June.

Anbang Life now holds a 6.73% interest in the real estate giant.

In late September, the group, Anbang P&C and Anbang Annuity also off-loaded their stakes in China Minsheng Banking Corp. Ltd., Chang Chun Eurasia Group Co. Ltd. and Beijing Tongrentang Co. Ltd., following a similar move by Hexie Health in late June.

After the series of transfers, Anbang has consolidated shareholdings in Vanke, China Minsheng Banking, Chang Chun Eurasia Group, Beijing Tongrentang and Gemdale Corp. under Anbang Life. Anbang's stakes in some other listed companies, including China Merchants Bank Co. Ltd. and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, are still dispersed among different subsidiaries.

An Anbang spokesman declined to comment on the share transfers when contacted by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

A Beijing-based lawyer specializing in insurance and corporate mergers and acquisitions told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the transfer is likely designed to ensure that Anbang Life, whose business model and size mean it has the highest solvency requirement among the group's businesses, has enough high-quality assets to back its liabilities. The lawyer declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic.

Anbang's insurance units have not published quarterly solvency reports since the second quarter of 2017. As of the end of the first quarter of 2017, Anbang Life and Hexie Health reported comprehensive solvency ratios of 129.20% and 102.01%, just above the regulator's 100% minimum.

Anbang Group was seized by the Chinese insurance regulator in February 2018 for what the regulator said were its violation of insurance laws and damaged solvency. Anbang is now under control of the Chinese government; the China Insurance Security Fund Co. Ltd. holds a 98.23% stake in the company.

In July, Chinese media Caixin cited sources saying such transfers are aimed at "reorganizing Anbang's complex asset structure for future divestiture."

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