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November 22, 2016

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Anbang seeks Japanese assets

CHINA’S Anbang Insurance Group Co is in talks to buy as much as US$2.3 billion in Japanese residential property assets from Blackstone Group, two people involved in the talks said, in what would be Japan’s biggest property deal since the global financial crisis.

The US asset manager is discussing the sale of properties it had bought from investors, including in a deal with General Electric Co in 2014, said the sources.

The talks are in an advanced stage, one of the sources said.

For Anbang, seeking to diversify its assets globally, the deal would be its first foray into Japanese real estate. The Chinese firm last year lost out to a Japanese developer Hulic Co in bidding for property asset manager Simplex Investment.

A Blackstone official declined to comment. Anbang officials were not available for comment.

The deal could fetch about 260 billion yen (US$2.3 billion), the sources said, marking the biggest Japan property transaction since a fund managed by Morgan Stanley bought 13 hotels from ANA Holdings Inc for 281 billion yen in 2007, the height of the property investment boom.

Japan’s property market has rebounded since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012 and championed ultra-easy money policies that have driven down interest rates and boosted asset prices in a bid to pull Japan out of decades of deflation.

Prices for office properties have rebounded to levels where investors find it hard to justify future returns, but some say residential prices can rise further on housing demand in the biggest cities, where growth is robust.

The assets Blackstone is planning to sell are apartment buildings aimed at middle-class residents.


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