Anbang says chairman can't perform job for personal reasons

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On Monday, the magazine Caijing reported that Wu, who founded Anbang in 2004 and built it into one of China's biggest insurers, was detained last week by insurance regulators.

In a terse statement sent to reporters around 2am Beijing time, Anbang said only that Mr Wu - who had spent more than a decade transforming the company into a global juggernaut - was no longer able to serve in his post because of personal reasons. The statement also said Wu's responsibilities will be assumed by other senior executives, and that business will be operating normally, according to Reuters.

"Anbang's rise to worldwide prominence has been much like that of modern China itself - meteoric, with mystical origins, and often misunderstood", said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital, a Shanghai-based investment advisory firm.

The two sides were reportedly negotiating a deal to redevelop one of Kushner Companies' Manhattan buildings.

Best known overseas for its 2015 purchase of New York's landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel, Beijing-based Anbang has pursued a string of high-profile foreign acquisitions under Wu.

It was in advanced talks to invest in Kushner Company's 666 Fifth Avenue project, but owner Jared Kushner, son-in-law of U.S. President Trump, recently said his company had stopped negotiations with Anbang.

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Following a successful deal-making run worth over $30 billion, Anbang ran into some roadblocks and failed to close on a handful of investments. "We can't touch the Anbang story; only Caijing and Caixin can do that", she said.

Anbang drew worldwide attention in 2014, as it snapped up real estate and financial-services companies in Asia, the United States and Europe, often at large premiums. A company executive and a business partner of Anbang, however, confirmed his detention to the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal later reported a special investigative team that looks into economic crimes was behind the detainment. It also follows the mysterious disappearance in January of Xiao Jianhua, a China-born billionaire who was escorted out of his luxury hotel in Hong Kong by Chinese authorities and led across the border. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission did not respond to questions sent by fax.

Yet in several cases, Anbang has been singled out by authorities. The central bank didn't reply to a fax seeking comment and Anbang declined to comment.

The company has relied heavily on selling high-risk, short-term insurance policies to beef up its war chest for takeover bids through the capital market. Anbang's earlier agreement to buy the company was canceled in April after the Chinese company failed to meet transaction deadlines.

The report comes as Chinese authorities are engaged in a battle against corruption in their ranks and in the business world.

After all, Anbang is also infamous for its opaque shareholding structure, with murky ties to the families of top Chinese leaders.

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