Waldorf Astoria conversion unaffected by removal of Anbang chairman
New York City – 15 June 2017 –
The conversion of New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel into luxury condominiums is moving forward as planned and no delays are anticipated after the property’s owner, China’s Anbang Insurance Group, said its chairman was no longer able to carry out his duties, according to a company spokesman in the US.
“Anbang’s US business is operating as normal; we continue to operate our properties and move forward with our development projects,” the company said in a statement emailed by a representative in New York, Bloomberg reported.
“We have a large executive team in the United States intensely focused on operating our extensive portfolio here.”
Anbang paid a record US$1.95 billion for the Waldorf Astoria in 2015. The Art Deco icon, occupying a full city block on Park Avenue in Manhattan, closed in March to begin the conversion of most of the more than 1,200 hotel rooms to condos. A smaller hotel is scheduled to reopen at the property in a few years.
The insurer said earlier Wednesday in Beijing that chairman Wu Xiaohui was no longer able to serve in the post and had transferred responsibilities to other senior executives. The news, amid a crackdown on financial risk-taking in China, adds to the mystery surrounding a company that has been on the forefront of a global acquisition spree by Chinese companies.
Anbang bought the Waldorf from Hilton Worldwide, which retained a 100-year management contract. Hilton had owned the hotel for more than four decades and took advantage of the Chinese appetite for foreign assets rather than spend a lot of money on renovations.