September 24, 2012 / 5:02 PM / in 7 years

China insurer Ping An files claim for Fortis loss

* Files arbitration claim against Belgium with ICSID

* First mainland China firm to use ICSID - lawyer

LONDON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - 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 banking meltdown.

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)

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