Chinese online insurer wins HK approval for $1.4b IPO

HONG KONG • • ZhongAn Online Property and Casualty Insurance, China's first Internet-only insurer, secured Hong Kong stock exchange approval for its planned initial public offering which could raise more than US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion), sources with direct knowledge of the deal said yesterday.

The firm plans to start gauging investor appetite for the IPO as soon as Monday, after receiving the nod from the listing committee of the Hong Kong stock exchange, added the sources. It plans to launch the IPO and take orders from investors on Sept 18.

The sources could not be named because details were not public. ZhongAn did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment on its IPO plans.

The IPO would be the biggest by a fintech firm in the city, which wants to draw new listings of so-called new-economy start-ups. Hong Kong has had US$5.73 billion worth of new listings so far this year, compared with US$21.3 billion in all of last year, Thomson Reuters data showed.

ZhongAn is among several Chinese fintech companies tapping investors to fund expansion as consumers move more of their banking, payments, investing and insurance online.

Last year, Ant Financial, the world's most-valuable fintech company, raised US$4.5 billion, one of the biggest funding rounds for a private internet company, while peer-to-peer lending and wealth management platform Lufax raised US$1.2 billion and JD Finance, the finance subsidiary of online direct sales firm JD.com, raised US$1 billion.

The IPO would be the biggest by a financial technology company in the city, which wants to draw new listings of so-called new economy startups.

Zhong An was founded in November 2013 by Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, Tencent chairman Pony Ma and Ping An Insurance Group Co of China chairman Ma Mingzhe.

Its major shareholders include two of China's largest Internet companies - Alibaba Group's Ant Financial affiliate with 16 per cent, and Tencent Holdings with 12.1 per cent. Ping An also holds 12.1 per cent, according to ZhongAn's IPO prospectus.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'Chinese online insurer wins HK approval for $1.4b IPO'. Print Edition | Subscribe