October 12, 2017 / 4:28 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 2-China's regulator bans HNA's insurance unit from funding parent

(Adds response from Bohai Life in paragraph 8)

Beijing, Oct 12 (Reuters) - China’s Bohai Life Insurance is banned from providing financial aid “in any form” to HNA Group in the next six months while it improves its corporate governance, the regulator said late on Wednesday.

Bohai Life also has been barred from conducting any fund-related connected transactions with HNA during the period, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) said in a notice released on its website.

A spot review of Bohai Life from March 24 to April 15 had found problems in managing shareholders, internal controls and connected party transactions, it added.

Bohai Life said in a statement on Thursday it had a plan to rectify the problems.

The ban adds fresh pressure on HNA Group’s financing situation after the Chinese government in June told major banks to review their credit exposure to the highly-leveraged company.

The company now faces increased scrutiny as regulators and bankers question the group’s opaque ownership structure and use of leverage.

Headquartered in the southern island of Hainan, privately-owned HNA has announced deals over the last two years of more than $50 billion. Some funding for HNA’s acquisitions has come from the sales of short-term universal life insurance products through insurance companies and banks it controls.

HNA, which owns airlines, hotels, real estate and a near 10 percent stake in Germany’s Deutsche Bank, controls Bohai Life through its Shenzhen-listed Bohai Capital Holding Co .

In four separate notices, the CIRC has also banned Pearl River Life Insurance, Shanghai Life Insurance, Sunshine Life Insurance and Junkang Life Insurance from conducting some financial transactions with related parties in the next six months. (Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee in Singapore and Shu Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Stephen Coates)

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