* Files arbitration claim against Belgium with ICSID
* First mainland China firm to use ICSID - lawyer
LONDON, Sept 24 Chinese insurer Ping An
is seeking compensation for losses on its investment
in failed Belgo-Dutch bank Fortis through an international
arbitration body sponsored by the World Bank.
Ping An, the world's second-biggest life insurer by market
value, lost about $3 billion when Fortis was nationalised and
sold off during the 2008 financial crisis, damping China's
appetite for further European financial services deals.
The insurer filed a request for arbitration proceedings
against Belgium at the International Centre for Settlement of
Investment Disputes on Sept. 19, according to the
Washington-based body's website.
Ping An is the first mainland Chinese firm to pursue a claim
through ICSID, but others could follow suit as they seek to
protect their growing investments outside China, said Andy
Moody, a partner at British law firm Eversheds.
"This might signal the beginning of a wave of Chinese claims
if you think about the commodities they've been buying, and the
investments they've made in commodity-related companies around
the world," Moody told Reuters.
"There are bound to be any number of outward investments
they have made in the last five to ten years which may now be
starting to run into problems."
If Ping An's claim is successful, Belgium could be ordered
to reimburse the insurer for the loss of its stake in Fortis,
taken into public ownership after being overwhelmed in the 2008
ICSID was set up in 1966 to resolve disputes over alleged
breaches of investment treaties between countries, and has over
140 member states.
(Reporting by Myles Neligan; Editing by David Cowell)