Anbang chief Wu Xiaohui detained by authorities
Anbang Insurance Group Co., one of China’s most aggressive outbound investors, confirmed in a late Tuesday statement that its chairman and general manager Wu Xiaohui has been detained by the Chinese government. The insurer said Wu can’t perform his duty “for personal reasons”, and has delegated his authority to other executives.
Just hours before Anbang Insurance’s brief statement, Caijing, one of the country’s leading financial magazines, reported Wu was taken away by investigators on June 9. Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that Wu had been banned from taking overseas trips. Caijing deleted the report about Wu’s detention just hours later.
Anbang Insurance is known internationally as an acquisitive buyer, whose most celebrated deal would be its $2bn purchase of the landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. Following the frenzied overseas M&A activity by Chinese companies over the past two years, the government began to crack down on non-strategic outbound investments since the end of last year in a bid to prevent capital outflow.
Anbang made headlines in recent weeks when its high-profile boss Wu was entangled in a verbal battle with the respected magazine Caixin and its editor-in-chief Hu Shuli. Caixin has run a series of feature stories charging Anbang of malpractices, while Anbang claimed it had refused to place ads in Caixin and so false reports about Wu getting married three times and divorcing his present wife were published.
Wu, hailing from Whenzhou, a prosperous commercial city in south China, is known as a high-flying billionaire who had accumulated his wealth through investments in roads and China’s burgeoning motor industry. He married a granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping, China’s late national leader. Although Wu is respected for leading Anbang in the international business world, he is repeatedly reported to have used controversial life insurance policies to finance Anbang’s brave buying. So he has been closely watched by local regulators.
It is widely covered by main foreign financial media that President Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has now extended to the financial industry. Xiang Junbo, the chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, was detained for an investigation two months ago. Anbang chief Wu Xiaohu’s detention is regarded by some industry insiders as the most recent development of the moves. 


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