AIG has been trying to sell the unit for 15 months as part of its plans to pay back the US government for its $180bn bailout, but regulatory issues have dogged the sale process and may still delay it further.
The buyer group, called Ruen Chen Investment and comprising Ruentex Industries and shoemaker Pou Chen, signed a deal yesterday for the 97.57 per cent of Nan Shan that is for sale, Ruentex said in a statement to the Taiwan stock exchange.
“Ruen Chen offers strong operational and funding capabilities and possesses a clear ability to satisfy the strict criteria that governed AIG’s bid review process,” said Robert Benmosche, AIG president and chief executive.
AIG had a deal worth $2.15bn last year blocked by the regulator, citing concerns about the previous bidders’ industry experience. That forced AIG to put the asset back on sale and prompted Benmosche to personally visit the regulators in December to discuss the sale.
But there are still worries that Ruentex, a major player in the hypermarket business in China and Taiwan, may not meet all of the five criteria the regulator has laid down.
Ruentex chairman Samuel Yin has owned and run insurance and asset management businesses in the past, but has since sold them at a profit. The regulator, seeking a long-term stable owner, in general does not approve of buying assets just for resale.