China's Anbang denies report of investment in property owned by Trump's son-in-law

Anbang Insurance Group was named in a Bloomberg report on Monday as a possible investor in a $4 billion deal to buy the 41-floor building located at 666 Fifth Avenue

Published: 15th March 2017 10:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th March 2017 10:41 AM   |  A+A-

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, his wife Ivanka Trump and their children Arabella (L-R), Joseph and Theodore arrive aboard Air Force One. (File | Reuters)

By Reuters

NEW YORK: China's Anbang Insurance Group said it is not investing in a flagship Manhattan office tower owned by the family of Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser.

Anbang Insurance Group was named in a Bloomberg report on Monday as a possible investor in a $4 billion deal to buy the 41-floor building located at 666 Fifth Avenue, according to a copy of the agreement that was being circulated to attract additional investors.

"The information about Anbang investment in 666 Fifth Avenue is not correct, there is no investment from Anbang for this deal," a spokesman for Anbang said in a statement on Tuesday.

The property was purchased by Kushner Cos in 2006 for $1.8 billion, which at the time was the highest price paid for a single building in Manhattan.

"Kushner Companies is in active discussions around 666 5th Avenue, and nothing has been finalised," a spokesperson for the company said on Tuesday.

The New York Times had reported in January that Anbang Chairman Wu Xiaohui and Jared Kushner were nearing agreement on a joint venture to redevelop the building.

The aging property occupies a full block that fronts Fifth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Street – prime real estate for retailers that is just steps from Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and a few blocks south of Trump Tower.

Anbang, established in 2004 as an auto insurer, has emerged as one of China's most aggressive buyers of overseas assets in the past two years, spending more than $30 billion buying luxury hotels, insurers and other property assets.

Based in Beijing, Anbang manages some 1.65 trillion yuan ($240 billion) worth of assets, and has been involved in some high-profile deals, although a handful did not make it across the finish line.

The Chinese insurer abruptly pulled out of a $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc last year, and its attempt to buy U.S. annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life is facing regulatory hurdles.

In 2014, the insurer bought New York's landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc for $1.95 billion. The company reportedly plans to convert as many as 1,100 of the hotel's 1,413 rooms into condominiums.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency said 666 Fifth Avenue was 20 percent vacant as of July 2016, and valued the property at $982.1 million. Kroll called some $1.1 billion in debt on the building a "loan of concern."

Vornado Realty Trust, one of the largest owners of Class A office and high-end retail space in Manhattan, gained a 49.5 percent interest as part of a $1.215 billion recapitalization of the building in 2011.

Vornado did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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