Anbang Insurance was once the poster child for China’s high-flying private financiers. But that era came to an end in a ceremony in Beijing on Thursday, when officials pulled down a bright red banner to unveil the company’s new name: Dajia Insurance, or “Everybody’s Insurance”.
Dajia’s official debut comes 18 months after Anbang’s takeover by the Chinese government, part of a broader deleveraging campaign that sought to root out systematic risks to the country’s financial system.
Wu Xiaohui, Anbang’s founder, was sentenced to 18 years in jail in Shanghai for fraud in May 2018. Mr Wu’s mother has since petitioned government departments and launched an online campaign seeking proof of life of her son, who has not been seen by lawyers or relatives for about a year.
Anbang’s life insurance products, packaged as high-interest paying investment instruments, allowed it to purchase trophy assets ranging from the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York to Benelux banks. It amassed high levels of debt in the process.
Regulators have been attempting to unwind Anbang’s debt by selling down investments, starting with those held in Mr Wu’s name. However, Mr Wu’s mother has complained that assets confiscated by regulators include shell companies in her name and those of other relatives.
Dajia Insurance, approved by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, has more than RMB20bn ($2.91bn) in registered capital. The lion’s share is held by the China Insurance Security Fund, with smaller stakes held by state-owned oil giant Sinopec and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, according to a document published on the website of the CBIRC.