China’s largest in­surer sets up US shop

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HEZI JIANG in New York hez­i­jiang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The launch of China Life’s first ever US representative of­fice on Wed­nes­day con­firms the com­pany’s in­tent to up its in­vest­ment in the United States.

China Life In­sur­ance Com­pany — ranked No 54 in the 2016 For­tune Global 500 with 2015 rev­enues of $101 bil­lion — has been a ma­jor in­vestor in US real es­tate.

The com­pany re­cently led an in­vest­ment in a stake in Star­wood Cap­i­tal Group val­ued at about $2 bil­lion, tak­ing a big share of the 280 ho­tels spread across 40 states.

In May, China Life took a siz­able (but undis­closed) piece of 285 Sixth Av­enue, a land­mark Man­hat­tan of­fice build­ing, in a deal worth $1.65 bil­lion.

Last year, China Life spent more than $1 bil­lion buy­ing US ware­houses, and to­gether with Ping An In­sur­ance Com­pany of China, it co-in­vested in a Tish­man Speyer mixed-used de­vel­op­ment in Bos­ton.

“There is still a long way to go,” said Liu Huimin, vice-pres­i­dent of China Life, dur­ing a re­cep­tion on Wed­nes­day in the Rainbow Room at Rock­e­feller Plaza.

Liu also gave the latest num­bers on the com­pany’s over­seas in­vest­ments: $4.4 bil­lion, less than 1 per­cent of its to­tal $466 bil­lion in as­sets. With the ceil­ing set by in­dus­try reg­u­la­tors at 15 per­cent, mean­ing China Life still had much lee­way.

Liu called its US representative of­fice, lo­cated in mid­town Man­hat­tan, “China Life’s front desk in the US”.

“It’s our com­mit­ment to wider and deeper in­volve­ment in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, to strengthen our co­op­er­a­tion with our part­ners in the US,” he told the au­di­ence.

Other Chi­nese in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are in­vest­ing in the US and Europe, in­clud­ing Ping An and An­bang, which bought the Wal­dorf As­to­ria ho­tel for $1.95 bil­lion in 2014.

“It is an ob­vi­ous choice for them, given the sharp volatil­ity of the do­mes­tic A-share mar­ket and the de­pre­ci­a­tion pres­sure on the yuan,” said Grant Ji, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of cap­i­tal mar­kets for north­ern China at CBRE Group.

HEZI JIANG / CHINA DAILY

Com­pany of­fi­cials and guests cel­e­brate the open­ing of the China Life US Representative Of­fice on Wed­nes­day at the Rainbow Room in New York.

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