A company owned by the family of US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner stands to gain bigly from a business deal that is reportedly in the works with a Chinese insurance company infamous for having murky ties to the families of top Chinese leaders. A deal; however, which the Chinese company has denied is taking place.
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that the Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group is currently in talks to grab a hefty piece of prime Manhattan real estate, hoping to invest $4 billion in transforming the 666 Fifth Ave. Office Tower into condominiums and retail space.
The property was Kushner’s first major foray into high-profile real estate, purchased by Kushner Companies in 2006 for $1.8 billion, the highest sales price for a single building in Manhattan at the time. Unfortunately, for Kushner the global financial crisis followed soon after, nearly sinking his business, forcing him to sell off much of his stake in the building to another developer.
According to details of a proposed agreement viewed by Bloomberg, Anbang appears ready to step in and save the day. In the agreement, Kushner’s family stands to receive a $400 million cash payout, along with a sizable stake in the property’s new retail space for selling its stake in the 41-floor tower in what some experts have called a “sweetheart deal” for America’s very own “princeling.”
Over the past few years, Anbang has been on a global spending spree, raising eyebrows and national security concerns along the way. As the New York Times found last year, the $300 billion Chinese conglomerate is owned through 39 different companies, many of which are shell companies that can be traced to Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui and his wife, the daughter of former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, as well as the son of a top military marshal.
Last year, the company purchased New York’s historic Waldorf Astoria hotel with plans to overhaul the iconic building and fill it with luxury condos. While the hotel has traditionally accomodated US presidents on their trips to New York City, Barack Obama broke with that tradition last year, staying elsewhere, with the White House citing “security, counterintelligence and cybersurveillance concerns” for the decision. Since purchasing the Waldorf, Anbang has seen its efforts to buy up additional property in the US thwarted by regulators.
For its part, Anbang has denied reports that it is planning to purchase the Manhattan tower. “The information about Anbang investment in 666 Fifth Avenue is not correct, there is no investment from Anbang for this deal,” a spokesman for Anbang said in a statement on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Kushner Companies has said that they are in “active discussion” around the property, but “nothing has been finalized.” Kushner himself has sold his own ownership stake in the tower to family members, in a weak effort to divest himself from potential conflicts of interest, which appears to run in the family.
Along with being the president’s son-in-law, Kushner is also a senior adviser who has been regularly meeting with top Chinese diplomats, and is rumored to have helped set up next month’s Mar-a-Lago meeting between Trump and Xi Jinping. While her father has busied himself with bashing and angering China, Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife, has demonstrated a softer approach, visiting the Chinese Embassy in Washington to celebrate the Chinese New Year and posting videos of the couple’s daughter singing in Mandarin.
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