With Oceanwide deal dead, Genworth speeds ahead on mortgage insurer IPO


Every time the proposed acquisition of Genworth Financial by China Oceanwide cleared a regulatory hurdle or other barrier, another one popped up to delay the transaction.

Now after over four years of trying, Genworth has terminated the transaction and instead will pursue its alternative plans, including a partial initial public offering of its U.S. mortgage insurance operation.

"Genworth's board of directors has concluded that Oceanwide will be unable to close the proposed transaction within a reasonable time frame and that greater clarity about Genworth's future is needed now in order for the company to execute its plans to maximize shareholder value," James Riepe, its non-executive chairman, said in a press release. "Thus, the board decided to terminate the Oceanwide merger agreement."

The U.S. MI business has been a bright spot for Genworth in recent years, compared to its troubled long-term care insurance segment. In the fourth quarter of 2020, U.S. MI had adjusted operating income of $95 million, compared with $141 million in the third quarter and $160 million for the fourth quarter of 2019.

But it did $27 billion of new insurance written in the fourth quarter of 2020, up from $26.6 billion in the third quarter and $18.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Genworth already started putting its Plan B in motion, with the March 2 sale of its remaining interest in the Australian mortgage insurance business through an underwritten agreement.

Approximately $247 million was used to pay off a promissory note related to its settlement with AXA. That left net proceeds available to Genworth at $123 million.

It was as recently as last October that Genworth was pointing to a happy conclusion to the long-running saga (the deal was first announced in October 2016). China Oceanwide had apparently received financing commitments to fund the deal, but certain regulatory approvals were still needed.

But when Dec. 31 passed and there was no completed transaction, the formal deadline — extended 16 times — was not pushed back for the 17th time. And Genworth's announcement issued after Tuesday's stock market close became inevitable.

Genworth took many actions to clear regulatory hurdles for the Oceanwide deal, including creating a data protection plan in order to gain the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. It also sold its remaining interest in its Canadian MI subsidiary in August 2019

At 6:30 p.m. in after-hours trading on April 6, Genworth's stock was down $0.07 per share to $3.44 from its close earlier in the day at $3.51.