Feb 9 (Reuters) - In the face of U.S. state regulatory hurdles, U.S. annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life said on Thursday it extended the deadline for its $1.6 billion sale to China’s Anbang Insurance Group, and has negotiated the right to accept other offers.
The delay gives Anbang, which has sought high-profile deals overseas, more time to win needed approval for the deal from U.S. state regulators. Anbang withdrew an application for regulatory approval last year and has not re-applied.
The Fidelity deal has emerged as another test of the Chinese insurer’s global ambitions. Last year, it abruptly pulled out of a $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
Fidelity said it can now seek, respond to, evaluate and negotiate competing offers as long as it does not “enter a definitive agreement”, or sign a separate deal with another buyer.
Fidelity said the deadline for the deal with Anbang, which was agreed in November 2015, has been pushed back to April 17 from Feb 8. It said Anbang will have until May 31 if it secures a public hearing from Iowa’s financial regulator by April 17.
Beijing-based Anbang must secure approvals from regulators in New York and Iowa, where Fidelity has businesses.
The deal has been approved by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which scrutinizes deals over national security concerns. But getting regulatory approval in New York had been problematic.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters last year the New York Department of Financial Services had sought more details about Anbang’s funding and shareholder structure, information Anbang was not immediately able to provide.
As a result, Anbang withdrew an application it made in New York last year for regulatory approval and has not re-applied, a spokesman for New York’s Department of Financial Services said this week.
Established in 2004, Anbang manages some 1.65 trillion yuan ($239.8 billion) worth of assets and 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.
Due in part to the fact that it is a private company, little is known about Anbang’s funding and shareholding structure. Corporate records in China show Anbang is owned by 39 privately held and little-known companies scattered across China.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, last month divested his equity interest in a flagship New York City building that is the subject of negotiations with Anbang about a possible investment. ($1 = 6.8821 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Koh Gui Qing in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)