(Recasts; adds background on CFIUS and comment by lawyer)
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Genworth Financial Inc said on Wednesday it was pressing forward on its deal to be acquired by China’s Oceanwide Holdings Co Ltd, which has stalled over concerns about Chinese access to sensitive U.S. personal data and faced renewed doubts after the collapse of Ant Financial’s proposed purchase of MoneyGram.
Genworth said it and Oceanwide are working to amend the proposed deal in hopes of winning approval from a U.S. national security panel.
On Tuesday China’s Ant Financial said it scrapped plans to buy MoneyGram International Inc because the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) rejected it.
CFIUS, which assesses deals to ensure they do not harm national security, had expressed concerns of the MoneyGram deal over the safety of data that can be used to identify U.S. citizens.
Genworth’s shares closed down 5.6 percent, at $3.05, on Wednesday on the news of the collapse of the MoneyGram deal. Genworth shares earlier hit a more than 52-week low of $3.01.
The two deals are among many facing CFIUS’s changing standards for deal approval as the United States has become increasingly skeptical of Chinese investment.
While CFIUS has not killed all deals involving Chinese buyers - at least a handful were approved in 2017 - the panel has been increasingly skeptical of Chinese transactions, according to legal experts.
“We are identifying transactions that, two years ago, we would have expected to be cleared and that, today, we do not expect to be cleared,” said Harry Clark, a CFIUS expert with the law firm Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP.
“Two years ago, it was rare for the government categorically to block deals, formally or informally. It is still not normal but it is also no longer rare,” he said.
Genworth, which in late November extended its deadline to complete the Oceanwide deal to April 1, said it had been working to allay CFIUS’s concerns with fixes to the deal that would be “more robust than previous CFIUS filings,” Genworth spokeswoman Julie Westermann said in an email statement.
“Genworth and China Oceanwide have been working with a leading U.S. third party data administrator to implement an additional mitigation approach that further protects our US customers’ personal private data,” Westermann said.
Oceanwide agreed in October 2016 to pay $2.7 billion in cash, or $5.43 per share, to acquire Genworth. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Susan Thomas and Leslie Adler)