Mystery Canadian hotel buyer potentially tied to China’s Anbang, report says

, Financial News

Anbang has been expanding into North American real estate since its purchase in early 2015 of Manhattan's Waldorf Astoria hotel for US$1.95 billion.

The buyer of InnVest Real Estate Investment Trust, one of Canada’s largest hotel owners, was unheard of before the US$2.1 billion deal was announced last week. It may have ties to China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

InnVest on May 10 said it agreed to be acquired by Bluesky Hotels & Resorts Inc., described as a privately held real estate investor incorporated in Canada and backed by Hong Kong capital. Bluesky’s president and chief executive officer was named as Li Chen. She has been employed by Anbang and acted on behalf of the Beijing-based insurer in prior deals in Canada, including one that was ongoing while the InnVest negotiations were taking place, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Chen, who goes by Lydia Chen, said at the outset of the InnVest talks that she was representing Anbang but that it didn’t want to be named as the buyer, according to one person involved in the transaction. When that met with objections, Chen said she was representing a new pool of capital called Bluesky, the person said.

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