Anbang Denies China Is Preventing Chairman From Leaving Country

  • Financial Times reported Wu Xiaohui is barred from travel
  • Acquisitive Chinese insurer has faced questions on ownership

Wu Xiaohui speaks during a conference in Boao, China, on March 26.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Anbang Insurance Group Co. denied a Financial Times report that said its chairman, Wu Xiaohui, is barred by Chinese authorities from leaving the country.

An Anbang representative declined to comment further. The FT reported Friday that Wu has been prohibited from leaving China, citing four people who have had business dealings with him. The insurer’s global takeover spree since 2014 has raised questions about its ownership and finances, while China has clamped down on capital flight. Anbang also has become involved in a political power struggle in China, according to the FT.

Anbang began its foreign buying binge with the $1.95 billion purchase of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The company abruptly pulled its $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts last year and later walked away from a purchase agreement for Fidelity & Guaranty Life. Wu often negotiated deals personally, not relying on traditional investment banks.

The insurer has faced pressure for more disclosure about its ownership and finances, the latest request coming from a hotel union negotiating a contract at one of its U.S. hotels.

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