The European Central Bank and German regulator BaFin have cleared the takeover of Hauck & Aufhäuser by Fosun, Handelsblatt has learned, bringing the Chinese conglomerate a major step closer to owning one of Germany’s oldest private banks.
The review of the acquisition is complete and Fosun will be cleared as the bank’s new owner without any conditions, sources told Handelsblatt.
The deal is not yet finalized, however. The takeover also has to be approved by financial authorities in Luxembourg, where the bank has investment operations. The backing of the ECB and BaFin is considered pretty decisive, however.
Approving the merger was complicated by the disappearance of Fosun founder Guo Guangchang for several days last December while the review was ongoing.
Fosun agreed to become the majority shareholders of Hauck & Aufhäuser back in July 2015 for €210 million, or $234 million. Approving the merger was complicated by the disappearance of Fosun founder Guo Guangchang for several days last December while the review was ongoing.
Mr. Guo’s brief disappearance led to speculation that Chinese authorities had detained him as part of a crackdown on corruption. He later reemerged at a company meeting in Shanghai.
The president of Fosun, Wang Qunbin, said that Mr. Guo was helping police with an investigation concerning his “personal affairs.”
BaFin requested additional information from Fosun after the conglomerate’s shares were suspended following Mr. Guo’s disappearance, delaying the approval process in Germany.
Mr. Guo, who grew up in poverty, founded Fosun with three fellow students for just $4,000 in 1992. Fosun has grown into China’s largest private corporation with a market value of $19.2 billion in 2015. Mr. Guo is one of the richest people in China with private assets estimated at $4 billion.
Fosun has gone on a global shopping spree, investing $25 billion abroad last year. The conglomerate has stakes in several German companies, including the agriculture company KTG Agrar and the fashion company Tom Tailor.
Michael Maisch is Handelsblatt’s deputy financial editor and is based in Frankfurt. Spencer Kimball of Handelsblatt Global Edition contributed to this story. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org