Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Anbang Insurance Group has made a bid on a majority stake in one of British Columbia’s biggest retirement homes.

Andy Wong/The Associated Press

The federal government is facing calls to reject a takeover bid by a massive Chinese insurer with a murky ownership structure that is seeking approval to buy a majority stake in one of British Columbia's biggest retirement home chains.

The deal is believed to exceed $1-billion and, if approved by Ottawa, would give Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group an important role in the delivery of health care in British Columbia.

A patient-advocacy group has called on the federal government to review the sale with caution. And British Columbia's most prominent NDP MP said Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains must reject the transaction outright, on the grounds Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts is an important part of British Columbia's health-care delivery system. The firm is the highest-billing provider of assisted living and residential care services in the province.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Chinese company Anbang buys stake in B.C.-based retirement home chain

Subscribers: Chinese investors top commercial-property buyers in Canada

Read more: Anbang poised to take control of Vancouver's Bentall Centre

Rick Turner, co-chair of BC Health Coalition, said he is alarmed at the apparent lack of concern from provincial and federal politicians about the sale of so many care homes to a foreign corporation.

Anbang has close ties to the Chinese government and has been linked to billions of dollars in real estate purchases across the globe.

"We don't know about the particulars of this deal or this company, but ownership does matter when it comes to seniors' care," he said in an interview.

The coalition says British Columbia has seen an increase of beds in the for-profit sector, while non-profit beds have decreased. The result, Mr. Turner said, is that the quality of services has deteriorated as owners seek to squeeze more profits from their facilities.

Story continues below advertisement

"The provincial and federal governments need to look very carefully at this plan," Mr. Turner said. "I wish they were more concerned. Often times when a for-profit takes over a seniors' home, the quality of care suffers in the drive to increase profit."

New Democratic Party MP Nathan Cullen said Retirement Concepts as a health care provider should be considered a "critical asset" for Canada to protect.

"You would think any government would reject this proposal."

The B.C. government paid the company $86.5-million in the 2015-16 fiscal year for its services, more than any other of the 130 similar providers.

Asked Monday whether she had any concerns, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she has no advice for Mr. Bains on whether he should approve the deal and that her government would make sure the quality of care remains the same for patients if Anbang purchases the retirement homes.

Asked whether she had known a company with close ties to the Chinese government was trying to take over Retirement Concepts, she first said: "I had heard about it after the [possible] sale was made." Asked whether she was concerned that Anbang tried to hide their purchase, she later said: "That's the federal government's purview, I heard about the possible purchase after the fact, because it's not an area of provincial responsibility."

Story continues below advertisement

This foreign takeover is currently under scrutiny by the Ottawa's Investment Review Division because it exceeds the $600-million threshold. In the past decade, the Conservative federal government blocked four such deals in the aerospace, telecom, potash and oil sectors, often citing the need to protect Canada's national interest.

Anbang's ownership remains mysterious. An investigation by The New York Times earlier this year revealed 92 per cent of Anbang is currently held by firms either fully or partly owned by relatives of Anbang's chairman, Wu Xiaohui, or his wife, the granddaughter of the former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, or Chen Xiaolu, the son of a famous People's Liberation Army leader.

Anbang appears to have gone to some lengths to conduct this B.C. deal below the radar by incorporating a new Canadian company under a different name. Telephone calls and e-mails to this company's listed directors were not returned. The Globe and Mail has also unable to reach anyone at Anbang International, Anbang Insurance's global investment arm, at its Vancouver number.

Michael Byers, a University of B.C. professor and Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law, said he is troubled by the way Anbang went about making their bid.

"It does send out a bit of a red flag here. One would hope that any company wishing to invest in Canada would do so in an open and transparent way – that adds to the sense of confidence that it's a good company," he said.

Under international trade deals that Canada has signed, the provinces retain the right to refuse to give health-care contracts to foreign companies. That's because Canada reserved the right in trade agreements for governments to discriminate against foreign suppliers of services in the health-care sector and foreign investors when it comes to health care.

Story continues below advertisement

Retirement Concepts, however, says it will remain as operator of the homes under a deal with Anbang's recently formed Canadian company. Retirement Concepts as operator will retain a minority share and manage day-to-day operations.

Retirement Concepts owns and operates about 24 retirement "communities," mostly in British Columbia, except for several properties in Calgary and Montreal. What makes it even more attractive is that it also owns holdings of unused or partly developed land that would allow a major expansion of facilities in the future.

Mike Klassen of the B.C. Care Providers Association, which represents private caregivers including Retirement Concepts, said it is not surprising that a family-owned business would be sold. "We don't make any secret that the margins are pretty small in this business," he said. "A lot of these care homes in B.C. are family owned and operated. In some cases, the operating costs are challenging and sometimes they are sold to someone who thinks they can do it more efficiently."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies