Anbang Leader Arrested As China Pitches Globalization & MSCI Watches

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The chairman of Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group has been removed from his position with the financial giant as reports swirl about him being detained by authorities due to an unspecified investigation.

Wu Xiaohui, the chairman of Anbang Insurance, was "unable to perform his duties for personal reasons", the company said.

Anbang, which is closely connected to the Chinese government, said the company was operating normally and that Wu had delegated power to other executives.

Other senior executives will carry out his responsibilities, said the Beijing-based company.

"Anbang's rise to global prominence has been much like that of modern China itself - meteoric, with mystical origins, and often misunderstood", said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital, a Shanghai-based investment advisory firm.

Wu met with Kushner last November in a bid to buy a stake in a Manhattan office building partly owned by Kushner's family company, the Times reported.

Anbang Insurance, which claims to have nearly $300 billion in assets, said its chairman, Wu Xiaohui, can not perform his duty "for personal reasons", and has delegated his authority to other executives, the South China Morning Post reported.

Anbang held controversial negotiations with the company owned by Trump's White House adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for an investment in an office tower on New York's famous Fifth Avenue. Anbang's earlier agreement to buy the company was canceled in April after the Chinese company failed to meet transaction deadlines.

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Capital flow into Anbang will inevitably slow down because of Wu's case and the enhanced scrutiny of regulators, which will make the company's situation hard, said Guo. Its planned $1.6-billion takeover of USA annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life collapsed in April after failing to get the required US regulatory approval.

Some of the headwinds facing Anbang are not unique to the company.

That statement fuelled speculation about Wu's well-being, at a time when Chinese business circles were already spooked by the mysterious disappearance of a China-born billionaire from Hong Kong early this year.

China's insurance regulator did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment or phone calls.

Yet in several cases, Anbang has been singled out by authorities.

This year, Anbang has been conspicuously subdued in its dealmaking as insurance regulators have escalated an industry crackdown by curtailing sales of risky products and restricting insurers' acquisitions of listed companies. Guo was reported to be out of contact when assisting authorities with a probe in December 2015, but he showed up three days later to deliver a public speech, and later said the probe was not about his business.

Wu previously established Liantong Leasing Group in 1996 and Traveller Automobile Group in 1998, before joining Anbang. At least 35 of Anbang's corporate shareholders can trace all or part of their ownership to relatives of Mr Wu or his wife, according to the report.

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