Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

Kushners set to get $400 million from Anbang on Manhattan tower - Bbg

Howard Terry | 16 March, 2017, 00:31

The Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group, would pay to get a high-profile piece of Manhattan real estate and would commit to spending billions more to completely transform the 60-year-old tower into a chic condominium and retail citadel. The potential deal with the Kushners is seen as rife with potential conflicts of interest because of Jared Kushner's role as White House adviser. In the agreement, Kushner's family stands to receive a $400 million cash payout, along with a sizable stake in the property's new retail space for selling its stake in the 41-floor tower in what some experts have called a "sweetheart deal" for America's very own "princeling". A Kushner family company bought the building at the height of the real estate boom in 2007, and afterwards struggled to make mortgage payments.

Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, has become something of a de facto envoy for the administration, and was present for a meeting between Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat, and his father-in-law at the end of February. Now Anbang will be business partners with in-laws of the First Family. The negotiations may lead to a federal review like it did when Anbang was looking to purchase the Waldorf Astoria.

But the company's murky shareholding structure has caused federal regulators to put the brakes on other planned acquisitions. "There is no investment from Anbang for this deal". According to the New York Post, Roth was not on board with that plan, and the paper is now reporting that the condo tower plan is back on after Anbang's investment.

The deal, however, could face scrutiny by both the US and Chinese governments before it is completed. Anbang's murky ownership structure has come under scrutiny before and resulted in it losing its $1.57 billion bid to take over a USA insurance company last summer.

The talks for this deal had started a year ago when Jared Kushner had met Wu Xiaohui, the chairman of Anbang Insurance Group.

Meanwhile, Kushner Companies has said that they are in "active discussion" around the property, but "nothing has been finalized". A White House spokeswoman also said that Mr. Kushner will excuse himself from any issues where his impartiality may be reasonably questioned.

He has also since stepped away from the day-to-day business of the company and placed some of his assets in a trust.

Vornado did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Kushner Companies spokesman told Bloomberg that there's no worry over conflict of interest because Jared sold his ownership in 666 Fifth Ave.to family members.

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

The proposed deal would be a form of political risk insurance for Wu, said Pei, the political-science professor.

"For him, it is a brilliant move", Pei said.

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