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Oceanwide to buy U.S. insurer Genworth for $2.7 billion, extends Chinese M&A push

Stock MarketsOct 24, 2016 01:19AM ET
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© Reuters. George Twopointoh, brand ambassador for Genworth, speaks with Ugo Dumont, a volunteer for the Genworth R70i Aging Experience, during a demonstration at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey

By Denny Thomas

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co has agreed to buy U.S. insurer Genworth Financial Inc (N:GNW) for $2.7 billion in cash, the latest in a series of moves by Chinese firms to buy overseas assets as their domestic economy slows and the yuan weakens.

In a joint statement on Sunday, Genworth and privately held and family-owned China Oceanwide Holdings said the Chinese firm will pay $5.43 per share to acquire all the Richmond, Virginia-based firm's outstanding shares. The price is a modest 4.2 percent premium to Genworth's Friday closing price.

But the Beijing-based holding firm, little known but founded by well-connected Chinese businessman Lu Zhiqiang, agreed to commit another $1.12 billion towards Genworth debt maturing in 2018 and life insurance claims charges, the statement said. Both firms' boards backed the deal, which remains subject to regulatory approvals and likely won't close before mid-2017.

The purchase comes amid a hectic year for Chinese buyers chasing overseas assets. So far, 2016 has seen mainland firms launch a record $181 billion of overseas mergers and acquisitions - about 70 percent more than the whole of last year.

Chinese investment holding firms have joined insurers like Fosun International Ltd (HK:0656) and unlisted Anbang Insurance Group in leveraging accumulated capital to buy global assets. Some recent purchases have also come from Chinese property companies, keen to reduce reliance on their home market.

Some recent Chinese bids have attracted intense regulatory scrutiny overseas. But rarely has an insurance deal by a Chinese acquirer been blocked outright by international watchdogs, according to people familiar with these transactions.

In some cases Chinese buyers have also been paying top dollar to secure insurance assets. Thaihot Group <000732.SZ> paid nearly three times Dah Sing Financial Holdings Ltd's (HK:0440) 2015 embedded value in a recent $1.4 billion purchase. That was more than double the valuation at which a previous Hong Kong insurance deal was done.

Beijing-based China Oceanwide - described by Genworth President & Chief Executive Officer Tom McInerney as "an ideal owner" going forward - is also the controlling shareholder of Hong Kong-listed China Oceanwide Holdings Ltd (HK:0715), worth about $1.6 billion by market value.

McInerney said the capital commitment from China Oceanwide would strengthen Genworth's business, increasing the likelihood of obtaining regulatory approval.

The parent group's operations span financial services, energy, culture and media, and real estate assets globally, employing more than 10,000 employees worldwide.

Genworth, which traces its roots back to 1871 and went public in 2004, has mortgage insurance operations in the United States, Canada and Australia, well as U.S. life insurance business. Shares in Genworth's Australia unit, Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Ltd (AX:GMA), rose 1.9 percent on Monday on the news.

Goldman Sachs (N:GS) and Lazard (N:LAZ) are acting as financial advisors to Genworth. Citigroup (N:C) and Willis Capital Markets & Advisory are acting as financial advisors to China Oceanwide, according to the statement.

Oceanwide to buy U.S. insurer Genworth for $2.7 billion, extends Chinese M&A push
 

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Robin Mazumder
SocialFxSystem Oct 23, 2016 10:59PM ET
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Then, where is the touching price of EURCHY?
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