A senior Chinese insurance regulator warned against the industry’s reckless overseas investment, saying some insurers behaved recklessly when it came to offshore acquisitions, the official Securities Times reported on Thursday.

Chen Wenhui, vice chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) urged insurers to take a cautious approach when investing overseas, the newspaper said.

“Blind outbound investment” by insurers, often with high leverage, involved tens of billions of yuan worth of risks in some cases, Chen was quoted as saying.

“Some companies behave like a little boy rushing into a candy store when making overseas investment,” Chen said.

Chen made the remarks at a time when Beijing is stepping up efforts to stem capital outflows that adds depreciation pressure to the yuan, and threatens to exhaust China’s foreign currency reserves.

Acquisitive Chinese insurers such as Anbang Insurance Group have been shopping overseas in recent years, snapping up foreign companies and properties.

Chinese insurers may boost outbound investment by about $100 billion over the next three years, as they seek to diversify risks, BNP Paribas predicted in December.

($1 = 6.8929 Chinese yuan)

Topics China