China’s Anbang may buy $2.3b Japanese realty assets from Blackstone

Anbang Insurance. Photo: Bloomberg

China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co is in talks to buy as much as $2.3 billion in Japanese residential property assets from Blackstone Group, two people involved in the discussions said, in what would be Japan’s biggest property deal since the global financial crisis.

The U.S. asset manager is discussing the sale of properties it had bought from investors, including in a deal with General Electric Co in 2014, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified.

The talks are in an advanced stage, one of the sources said.

For Anbang, seeking to diversify its assets globally, the deal would be its first foray into Japanese real estate. The Chinese firm last year lost out to a Japanese developer Hulic Co in bidding for property asset manager Simplex Investment.

A Blackstone official declined to comment. Anbang officials did not provide an immediate comment.

The deal could fetch about 260 billion yen, the sources said, marking the biggest Japan property transaction since a fund managed by Morgan Stanley bought 13 hotels from ANA Holdings Inc for 281 billion yen in 2007, the height of the property investment boom.

Japan’s property market has rebounded since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012 and championed ultra-easy money policies that have driven down interest rates and boosted asset prices in a bid to pull Japan out of decades of deflation.

Prices for office properties have rebounded to levels where investors find it hard to justify future returns, but some say residential prices can rise further on housing demand in the biggest cities, where growth is robust.

The assets Blackstone is planning to sell are chiefly apartment buildings aimed at middle-class residents. They include properties in Japan’s largest cities – Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka – that Blackstone bought in 2014 from GE’s property unit for 190 billion yen. The U.S. asset manager bought some residential assets from other investors that are also part of the deal.

It is not immediately clear how much of a return on its investment Blackstone may make through a sale to Anbang.

Privately owned Anbang has assets worth more than 800 billion yuan ($116 billion). It agreed in March to buy Strategic Hotels & Resorts also from Blackstone for $6.5 billion as it expands its U.S. hotels portfolio. In the same month the Chinese insurance group aborted a $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

It also owns New York’s famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.