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China’s Fosun Weighs Acquisition of Belgian Insurer Ageas
2018-07-27
Brief:China’s appetite for global expansion is still strong.
 
Fosun International Ltd., the Chinese group backed by billionaire Guo Guangchang, is considering an offer for all or parts of Belgian insurer Ageas in what could be its boldest move to expand its international footprint, people familiar with the matter said.
 
Shanghai-based Fosun is talking to advisers about alternatives including teaming up with a partner to split the Brussels-based company or increasing its current stake, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No final decisions have been made and Fosun may decide against pursuing a deal, they said.
 
Ageas has a market value of 8.9 billion euros ($10.4 billion), after shares rose 7.2 percent this year.
 
Fosun has continued to expand its international business empire amid a Chinese crackdown on overseas deals in certain industries that’s forced other conglomerates like Anbang Insurance Group Co. to shed assets. This year, Fosun announced deals for Brazilian brokerage Guide Investimentos and French fashion house Lanvin.
 
Its biggest overseas forays abroad have been in insurance. The company bought control of Portugal-based Caixa Geral de Depositos SA’s insurance business in a roughly 1.6 billion-euro deal in 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg show. It also acquired U.S.-based Ironshore Inc. in 2015 for $2.1 billion and then sold it less than two years later.
 
Close Scrutiny
 
Ageas’s U.S.-traded shares rose 6.5 percent Tuesday, the most in almost six years. Fosun already holds about 3 percent of Ageas, though Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. is the largest shareholder with a 5 percent stake, according to filings.
 
Representatives for Ageas and Fosun declined to comment.
 
A potential deal could draw close scrutiny from regulators because Ageas is the biggest life insurance provider in Belgium and No. 2 non-life insurer, according to its website. In addition to operations across Europe, Ageas sells products in China, Malaysia, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore and Vietnam. It’s also a minority partner in a joint venture with China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co.
 
There are other signs that China’s appetite for global expansion is still strong. In May, China Three Gorges Corp., the country’s largest clean energy company, offered 9.1 billion euros to raise its stake in electricity giant EDP-Energias de Portugal SA.
 
Fosun, meanwhile, received Hong Kong Stock Exchange approval this month to spin off its tourism and hotels unit, which owns Club Med SAS and luxury hotel development Sanya Atlantis.

Source: Insurance Journal
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