China’s Anbang challenges Marriott with $13 billion Starwood offer

China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co has challenged Marriott International Inc’s (MAR.O) merger with U.S. hotel operator Starwood with a $12.8 billion cash offer, burnishing its credentials as one of China’s top corporate acquirers.

The non-binding bid, unveiled on Monday, just days after Anbang agreed to acquire Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc from buyout firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) for $6.5 billion, would represent by far the biggest Chinese investment in U.S. real estate assets.

Chinese insurers are rushing to acquire high-yielding assets as they struggle to keep up with the policy liabilities of the country’s aging population. U.S. assets are also seen as a good hedge against any future weakness in the yuan.

The head of China’s insurance regulator, Xiang Junbo, wrote in January in a magazine published by the country’s central bank that Chinese insurers should venture overseas for investments. These investments, however, are not without hurdles.

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