The retirement homes are owned by Retirement Concepts, which is owned by the Anbang Insurance Group, which is now owned by the Chinese government. Photo by Scott Strasser.

Two Comox Valley retirement homes now ‘owned’ by Chinese government

China has seized the Anbang Insurance Group — the parent company of 21 senior living homes in B.C.

Two private retirement homes in the Comox Valley are reassuring their tenants and staff that the Chinese government’s recent takeover of a large insurance conglomerate will not impact their day-to-day operations.

The Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission seized the Anbang Insurance Group on Feb. 23. The insurance regulator cited fraud charges against Anbang’s former chairman Wu Xiaohui and risk of insolvency as reasons for the government’s takeover.

Anbang is a Beijing-based equity and insurance firm that owns billions of dollars worth of properties and assets around the world, including Canada.

Now, the biggest retirement and senior housing chain in B.C. — which has been underneath Anbang’s ownership for just over a year — is trying to reassure its stakeholders that the takeover will not affect its autonomy.

Anbang acquired Retirement Concepts last year for roughly $1 billion.

Retirement Concepts owns 21 private retirement homes in B.C., including two in the Comox Valley: the Casa Loma Retirement Village and the Comox Valley Seniors Village.

Following last week’s seizure of Anbang, the labour union that represents Retirement Concepts employees expressed concerns that the acquisition could affect the chain’s retirement communities in B.C.

The BC Government and Service Employees Union Local 0402 (BCGEU) represents more than 850 workers at nine Retirement Concepts sites.

The union is among the groups that criticized the federal Canadian government for allowing the sale of Retirement Concepts to Anbang.

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said the union will be “keeping a close eye on the situation” as it unfolds.

“We will continue working in the best interests of our members and for the vulnerable clients they serve,” she said in a statement, acquired by Black Press.

“We want to ensure that both our members’ jobs and services to seniors are protected.”

In response to the takeover of Anbang, Retirement Concepts issued a statement to reassure tenants, staff, and union representatives that the changes will not impact its day-to-day operations or staffing levels.

“As announced by the Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission, an Interim Management Working Group will temporarily oversee management of Anbang for a one-year period,” reads the statement.

“This temporary change in management at Anbang will not impact the operations of Retirement Concepts, its staff or residents.”

The statement goes on to say that Anbang will remain a private, independent company under the Chinese government’s control and that “its business and operations are stable.”

“Retirement Concepts communities are provincially regulated and we are required to report out monthly to ensure we meet the highest standards for residents, and this will not change.”

Senior living communities in B.C. under the Retirement Concepts umbrella include:

Vancouver Island:

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