The Government of China is suddenly now the owner of billions of dollars worth of Canadian real estate, including a number of high-profile properties in the country’s largest urban centres.
A bulletin issued by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, an agency of the communist government, notes Wu Xiaohui, the former CEO of Anbang Insurance Group Co., is being prosecuted for alleged illicit economic activity.
Under Wu’s leadership, Anbang “violated the relevant laws and regulations,” according to the agency.
As a result, all of Anbang’s assets are now under the control of the Chinese government for at least one year to stabilize and restructure the company. This control is deemed necessary to protect “the legitimate rights and interests of consumers and stakeholders.”
An excerpt of the bulletin, translated from Chinese, reads:
In view of the fact that Anbang Group acts in violation of laws and regulations and may seriously endanger the solvency of the Company, in order to maintain the normal operation of Anbang Group and protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, according to the relevant provisions of the Insurance Law of the People’s Republic of China, the CIRC decided in 2018 February 23 on the implementation of the Anbang Group take over the deadline of one year.
CIRC, in accordance with the law, set up a takeover working group in cooperation with the PBC, CBRC, CSRC, SAFE and other relevant departments to take over the operation and management of Anbang Group in full power and exercise full responsibility for the three layers of the Anbang Group.
During this period, the government will create a plan to divest some of Anbang’s global assets, which is estimated to be worth USD$300 billion.
Investigations of the company by the agency began in June 2017.
Canadian properties now owned by the Government of China
Through the seizure of Anbang’s assets, Beijing owns four towers of the Bentall Centre office complex in downtown Vancouver, worth an estimated over $1 billion. The cluster of office towers is the largest office tower complex in Metro Vancouver with about two million sq. ft. of floor area.
The office tower complex is said to be worth over $1 billion, with Anbang acquiring a controlling stake of $600 million in 2016.
The Chinese government is also the new owner of Retirement Concepts, a Vancouver-based chain of senior homes with two dozen properties in BC, Alberta, and Quebec. The sale of the company, worth over $1 billion, to Anbang was approved by the Canadian federal government last year.
Retirement Concepts has 10 properties within the Metro Vancouver region, and it is one of the BC provincial government’s highest-billing providers of assisted living and residential care services, with a $86.5-million bill to provincial taxpayers during the 2016-15 fiscal year, according to the Globe & Mail.
In 2017, Brookfield Canada Office Properties sold its 30-storey office tower at 777 Bay Street in downtown Toronto to Anbang for $515 million.
And two years prior, Anbang acquired 70 York Street, a downtown Toronto office building that houses HSBC Canada offices, for US$75 million.
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