Saturday, February 24, 2018

"Rarely in corporate history has a giant come and gone so quickly"


Anbang was founded in 2004 as a small Chinese car-insurance company. By the start of last year it ranked among the world’s biggest insurers with some $300bn of assets


For a time, Mr Wu appears to have had powerful backers. He was married to the grand-daughter of Deng Xiaoping, China’s revered former leader. He also was reputed to have a close relationship with Xiang Junbo, the top insurance regulator during Anbang’s dizzying rise. Yet nothing is permanent, not least in Chinese elite politics. In 2015 Caixin, a respected Chinese financial magazine, reported that Deng’s grand-daughter had separated from Mr Wu. And early last year Mr Xiang was detained for corruption.

When Anbang’s reputation in Beijing started to fray, it looked to cultivate connections in another capital: Washington, DC. It entered talks with a company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, to invest $400m in a New York skyscraper. It looked as though Mr Wu was trying to prove his worth to Chinese officials by having a direct line, or just about, to Mr Trump. But this last bid at saving his career, if that is what it was, came up short. A flurry of media reports examining the deal and the potential conflict of interest led the two sides to break off talks.