China's Anbang Insurance Group will let its agreement to acquire U.S. annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life (FGL) (FGL.N) for $1.6 billion lapse, after failing to secure all the necessary regulatory approvals, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
The development casts new doubt on Anbang's commitment to U.S. deals, following its abandoned attempt last year to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc for $14 billion.
Marriott International Inc (MAR.O) ended up buying Starwood.
While Anbang's FGL acquisition had received clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a U.S. government panel that scrutinizes deals for potential national security concerns, it could not get past some U.S. state regulators.
FGL had extended its merger agreement with Anbang, which was signed in November 2015, to April 17 after it was set to expire on Feb. 8. Had Anbang secured a public hearing with Iowa's financial regulator by April 17, it could have extended the expiration date to May 31.
However, Anbang has failed to meet the conditions for any further extension, the sources said. Anbang also needed approval from New York financial regulators, but it has abandoned efforts to secure it, the sources added.
The sources asked not to be identified because the recent developments are confidential.
The sources did not say why Anbang could not secure approvals from U.S. state regulators after clearing CFIUS, but noted that the Beijing-based group had pushed back against making some of the disclosures required.
FGL said in February it would solicit other acquisition offers as part of its merger agreement extension with Anbang. Negotiations between FGL and other suitors, including Bermuda-based reinsurance company Athene Holding Ltd (ATH.N), are continuing, the sources said.
FGL declined to comment, while Anbang and Athene did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Established in 2004, Anbang burst onto the global scene from near obscurity by signing more than $30 billion worth of corporate deals in the last 2-1/2 years. Its high-profile investments included a $1.95 billion purchase of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
Little is known about Anbang's funding and shareholding structure, partly because it is a private company. Corporate records in China show Anbang is owned by 39 privately held and little-known companies scattered across China.
Last month, Kushner Companies, the real estate firm headed by U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law until recently, said it ended talks to redevelop its flagship New York office tower with Anbang.
(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Suzanne Barlyn in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)