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Opinion
Nisha Gopalan

China's New National Team: The Insurers

The sale of Citi's stake in Guangfa to China Life is being done over the odds.

Citigroup's sale of its decade-old stake in a Chinese bank gives the U.S. company a hefty profit. What the state-controlled insurer China Life gets from buying into a debt-laden lender is less clear.

The insurer, the nation's largest by premiums, said Monday it's acquiring 23.7 percent of China Guangfa Bank for $3 billion from Citi -- whose 20 percent holding is the maximum permitted by a foreign institution -- and IBM. That's almost five times the $600 million Citi paid in 2006.