Swiss Re said to have held talks to invest in Chinese insurer Anbang

Signage for Anbang Insurance Group Co. is displayed atop Anbang Financial Center Block B in Beijing, China.

Swiss Re AG has held discussions with Chinese authorities about an investment in embattled insurer Anbang Insurance Group Co., people with knowledge of the matter said.

Swiss Re is among parties that have been approached as China seeks to find fresh funds to shore up the insurer, according to the people. The Zurich-based reinsurer hasn’t made a decision on whether to proceed with a investment, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

As part of the talks, Chinese officials have also been gauging Swiss Re’s interest in acquiring some overseas assets from Anbang, the people said. Anbang’s foreign holdings include Antwerp-based insurer Fidea, Dutch insurer Vivat and Belgian lender Nagelmackers. It also owns a controlling stake in South Korea’s Tongyang Life Insurance Co.

Since China temporarily seized the acquisitive insurer earlier this year and sentenced its chairman to prison, officials been seeking strategic investors both at home and abroad to take stakes in Anbang. Singapore’s state investment firm, Temasek Holdings Pte, has held talks with Chinese authorities about acquiring a stake in Anbang as well as some of its assets, Bloomberg reported this month, and a body that’s owned by some of China’s biggest insurance firms is also considering an investment.

Temasek isn’t currently in any active negotiations about an Anbang transaction, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

A Swiss Re spokesman declined to comment, and China’s insurance and banking regulator didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment after business hours. An Anbang representative said the company doesn’t comment on market speculation.

Multi-billion Fraud

China said Anbang’s chairman masterminded a multi-billion dollar fraud and used unauthorized sales of investment-type policies to prop up the company’s capital. The Chinese government has indicated fresh investors will eventually replace an industry security fund that injected 60.8 billion yuan ($8.8 billion) of capital into Anbang in April to keep the Beijing-based insurer as a private business as opposed to a state-owned one.

Switzerland’s biggest reinsurer said in May it would continue to welcome an anchor investor after Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group Corp. ended its pursuit of a stake in Swiss Re. The two firms had been discussing a strategic cooperation amid a wave of consolidation in the industry driven by rapid technological change and sluggish growth in insurance premiums.

Swiss Re is also exploring an initial public offering for its U.K. closed-book business dubbed ReAssure next year, it said in August, as it looks for more third-party capital for the unit.

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).

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

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  • 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. 
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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).

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

  • 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.