Image Source: Fglife.com

Anbang Insurance Group Co.  agreed to buy HRG Group Inc.’s Fidelity & Guaranty Life for about $1.6 billion to expand in the U.S.

The Chinese company will pay $26.80 per share, or 29 percent more than FG&L’s closing price on April 6, the day that HRG said it would explore a sale of the life insurer, the companies said in a statement Monday. There were 58.8 million shares outstanding as of Aug. 3, according to the target company’s most recent quarterly filing.

Other recent middle-market insurance deals include Genstar's All Web Leads buying InsuranceQuotes.com and Golden Gate-backed Nassu Reinsurance Group purchasing the Phoenix Cos. Inc.

Anbang completed a takeover of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel this year as part of its global expansion. The Beijing- based company has also struck deals recently to buy an office property from Blackstone Group LP and acquire Delta Lloyd NV’s Belgian banking unit, while investing in insurers in South Korea and Belgium. The FG&L purchase will give the firm a foothold in the world’s largest insurance market.

“Anbang Insurance’s ambition is to grow into an international financial service group, with all kinds of insurance services, that lists in the top 10 comprehensive financial groups in the world,” the firm said on its website.

FG&L has about 700,000 policyholders and offers life insurance and annuities, which provide income to retirees. The Des Moines, Iowa-based company had more than $19 billion of investments as of June 30, according to a regulatory filing.

“Our expertise and ongoing commitment to independent agents and the indexed life and indexed annuity insurance markets, coupled with Anbang’s resources, will allow us to continue to grow,” FG&L Chief Executive Officer Chris Littlefield said in the statement.

Anbang has more than 30 million customers and 30,000 employees, operating in businesses from insurance to banking and asset management. The company usually retains local management, said Arielle Patrick, a spokeswoman for the company at Weber Shandwick.

“We will pursue commercial opportunities in the overseas market to help Anbang’s growth and the execution of our global vision,” Anbang said in a separate document. “Wherever we do business, we will respect and follow the business environment and the legal framework in each local market.”

HRG, which was previously known as Harbinger Group Inc. and led by hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone, has been reshaping itself after Richard Handler’s Leucadia National Corp. increased its stake and oversight of the company. Omar Asali, formerly of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., took over this year as CEO, while Leucadia Chairman Joseph Steinberg became leader of the board of both HRG and its insurer.

A sale will help HRG shift its focus to its other operations such as Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc., the maker of Rayovac batteries and George Foreman grills. Spectrum announced a deal in April to buy the owner of Armor All car-care products.

Harbinger Group struck a deal in 2011 to buy Fidelity & Guaranty from Old Mutual Plc for about $350 million, adding assets that the company could reinvest in mortgage-backed securities and commercial loans. FG&L had an initial public offering in 2013, selling stock for $17 a share, with Falcone’s company retaining a majority stake.

“FGL has been a terrific investment for us and we are happy that FGL has found an ideal new home,” Asali said in the statement. “We believe that this transaction fully reflects the value that has been created at FGL and we strongly support it.”

Asian insurers have been looking to buy insurers in the U.S. to diversify operations and add portfolios that they can reinvest. China Minsheng Investment Corp., Fosun International Ltd., Japan’s Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Co. and Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. have all struck deals in the U.S. or Bermuda recently.

The FG&L deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2016, according to the statement.

Debevoise is advising Anbang. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is advising Fidelity & Guaranty Life.

 

--With assistance from Matthew Monks and Katherine Chiglinsky in New York and Doni Bloomfield in Boston.

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