China’s Anbang denies reports of stake in Kushner property
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China’s Anbang denies reports of stake in Kushner property

China’s Anbang Insurance Group says it is not investing in a flagship Manhattan office tower owned by the family of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior adviser of US President Donald Trump.

Anbang Insurance Group was named in a Bloomberg report on Monday as a possible investor in a US$4 billion deal to buy the 41-floor building located at 666 Fifth Avenue, according to a copy of the agreement circulated to attract additional investors.

“The information about Anbang investment in 666 Fifth Avenue is not correct, there is no investment from Anbang for this deal,” an Anbang spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.

The property was bought by Kushner Cos in 2006 for US$1.8 billion, which at the time was the highest price paid for a single building in Manhattan.

“Kushner Companies is in active discussions around 666 5th Avenue, and nothing has been finalised,” a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

The New York Times had reported in January Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui and Jared Kushner were nearing agreement on a joint venture to redevelop the building.

The ageing property occupies a full block which fronts Fifth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Street – prime real estate for retailers that is just steps from Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and a few blocks south of Trump Tower.

Anbang, established in 2004 as an auto insurer, has emerged as one of China’s most aggressive buyers of overseas assets in the past two years, spending more than US$30 billion buying luxury hotels, insurers and other property assets.

Based in Beijing, Anbang manages some 1.65 trillion yuan (US$240 billion) worth of assets and has been involved in some high-profile deals, although a handful did not make it across the finish line.

The Chinese insurer abruptly pulled out of a US$14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc last year, and its attempt to buy US annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life is facing regulatory hurdles.

SEE ALSO: Starwood buyout: China’s Anbang tops Marriott with $14bn bid

In 2014, the insurer bought New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc for US$1.95 billion. The company reportedly plans to convert as many as 1,100 of the hotel’s 1,413 rooms into condominiums.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency, which valued the property at US$982.1 million, said it was 20 percent vacant as of July 2016.

Kroll called some US$1.1 billion in debt on the building a “loan of concern.”

Vornado Realty Trust, one of the largest owners of Class A office and high-end retail space in Manhattan, gained a 49.5 percent interest as part of a US$1.215 billion recapitalisation of the building in 2011. – Reuters