China's HNA Explored Buying a Major Stake in Allianz, SZ Reports

The HNA Group Co. building stands in Beijing, China.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. explored buying a significant stake in insurer Allianz SE but was deflected, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported, without saying where it got the information.

HNA approached Munich-based Allianz to discuss the possibility of becoming an anchor shareholder, potentially even acquiring a majority holding, the newspaper said in a report on its website. Allianz managers rejected the request after conferring with China Investment Corp., the sovereign wealth fund that already owns some of its shares, Sueddeutsche said.

Federal authorities in Germany also were wary of letting HNA expand its clout in the country’s financial sector, the newspaper said. HNA became Deutsche Bank AG’s largest shareholder this year. An investor buying more than 10 percent of Allianz could have its stability and creditworthiness scrutinized by Germany’s BaFin financial regulator, according to the paper.

Led by Chen Feng, HNA has been on a shopping spree, announcing more than $40 billion of foreign acquisitions since the beginning of 2016. The firm, which has ambitions of becoming a financial-services provider, was said in May to drop out of bidding for HSH Nordbank, a regional bank in Germany.

HNA’s acquisition spree eventually attracted the scrutiny of the Chinese government. Regulators there have been assessing the risks that the company and other serial dealmakers might pose to the country’s financial system.

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