Chinese Phrase Adds Mystery to Anbang’s About-Face on Starwood


Wu Xiaohui, chairman of the Anbang Insurance Group, which recently dropped its bid to buy Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Ben Asen/International Insurance Society

HONG KONG — An obscure phrase on foreign investment tucked into China’s insurance regulations is being viewed as stunningly cryptic by Western standards. But the collection of words — not even a full sentence — adds to the mystery surrounding the sudden decision by the Chinese insurer Anbang Insurance Group to walk away from a $14 billion bid for the Starwood hotel chain.

The phrase allows insurance companies to make overseas investments, provided the total does not exceed 15 percent of their assets. But…

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