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Genworth Clears Major Obstacle to Completing China Oceanwide Deal

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China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd. has moved a big step forward toward acquiring Genworth Financial Inc.

A secretive U.S. national security review agency, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), has approved the deal, the companies announced Saturday.

The companies still need  to get approvals for their deal from insurance regulators in Delaware, New York state, China and other jurisdictions.

(Related: Genworth Faces Deal Resistance in Delaware)

China Oceanwide, a Beijing-based real estate developer and financial services company, agreed to acquire Richmond, Virginia-based Genworth in October 2016.

Genworth has been, and continues to be, a major player in the mortgage insurance markets in the United States and other countries.

In the past, Genworth was also a major player in the life insurance, annuity and long-term care insurance markets in the United States. Genworth continues to have large blocks of life insurance, annuities and long-term care insurance on its books. It has suspended new sales of life insurance and annuities in recent years because of concerns about reserves for long-term care insurance obligations.

China Oceanwide and Genworth noted early on that they were having to take steps to get approval for the China Oceanwide acquisition from CFIUS.

Companies seeking approval for deals from CFIUS cannot say much about the CFIUS approval process.

China Oceanwide and Genworth did say, in several notices filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, that they were trying to develop “mitigation options” involving an outside company. The companies did not give a clear description of the issues CFIUS wanted Genworth to mitigate.

Securities analysts and others speculated that CFIUS wanted to make sure that Genworth would keep China Oceanwide from getting access to U.S. policyholders’ personal information.

In the new announcement, China Oceanwide and Genworth have confirmed that the CFIUS concerns involved customer data.

China Oceanwide and Genworth have “entered into a mitigation agreement which, among other things, requires Genworth to use a U.S.-based, third-party service provider to manage and protect the personal data of Genworth’s U.S. policyholders,” the companies said.

Tom McInerney, Genworth’s president, said in a statement that Genworth looks forward to working with China Oceanwide to obtain the remaining regulatory approvals needed to complete the transaction.

Lu Zhiqiang, chairman of China Oceanwide, said in a statement that his company also continues to look forward to completing the deal.

“Successfully concluding the CFIUS process is a major step in our efforts to complete this transaction, which will strengthen Genworth’s financial position and allow us to bring Genworth’s insurance expertise to China,” Lu said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article described Genworth’s plans for its operations incorrectly. The company is currently planning to keep the long-term care insurance business together with the annuity business.

— Read Genworth and China Oceanwide Hint at U.S. Panel National Security Concerns, on ThinkAdvisor.

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