[Ed. – It’s always something. Pure-thinking economists would point out that in a down-trending global economy, American premier properties are still one of the safest havens for investment. But it’s not wrong to pay attention to the opportunities this affords the Chinese for espionage.]
On Monday, in a head-turning series of deals, a Chinese insurance company that just over a year ago purchased the Waldorf Astoria, bought $6.5 billion of properties from the Blackstone Group and made a $12.8 billion offer to buy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
The collection of brands — Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, St. Regis — is remarkable. Properties include the Essex House on Central Park South; the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, where “Some Like it Hot” was filmed; the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and a smattering of Four Seasons and Fairmont properties.
When the insurer, Anbang, purchased the Waldorf in 2015, there was concern that the historic hotel — where the United States ambassador to the United Nations resides — had fallen into the hands of a Chinese company. President Obama, who used to routinely stay at the Waldorf as United States presidents had done since 1947, switched hotels the next time he stayed overnight in Manhattan. The White House was said to be worried that the Chinese could have planted surveillance. (Mr. Obama stayed at the Millennium One UN New York and on a subsequent trip stayed at the Palace Hotel, which is owned by a South Korean company.)
Should there be concern over Anbang’s aggressive real estate push?