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Anbang: The random Chinese buyer’s figurehead runs out of steam

It’s hard not to see, in the detention of Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui, the final nail in the coffin of a certain kind of exuberant Chinese dealmaking.

Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui

Anbang, which on the face of it is a Chinese insurer, became the flag-bearer of daring-borderline-weird outbound M&A through a series of mighty acquisitions in 2015 and 2016.

This was a theme that probably reached its zenith with Anbang’s out-of-nowhere $14 billion bid for Starwood, the operator of the Sheraton and Westin hotels, which the Chinese group promptly withdrew again shortly afterwards having triggered a bidding war.

Lazard and Citi, advising Starwood, and Deutsche, advising eventual winner Marriott, emerged from the fray baffled but enriched. Anbang is the epitome of the totally random Chinese buyer, a trope of modern global M&A.

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