September 22, 2017 / 4:28 AM / in a month

China online insurer ZhongAn prices HK IPO at top end, raises $1.5 billion: IFR

HONG KONG (Reuters) - ZhongAn Online Property & Casualty Insurance Co priced its IPO at the top of an indicated range, raising $1.5 billion in Hong Kong’s biggest ever financial technology stock offering, IFR reported on Friday.

The Zhongan Insurance logo seen in this illustration photo September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

China’s first internet-only insurer priced 199.3 million new shares at HK$59.70 ($7.65) each, the top of a HK$53.70-HK$59.70 range said IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication. It cited people close to the deal.

ZhongAn, founded by Alibaba Group Holding Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Tencent Holdings Chairman Pony Ma and Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Chairman Ma Mingzhe, will debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Sept 28.

The insurer declined to comment on the pricing of the initial public offering (IPO).

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp agreed to buy a total stake of just under 5 percent for about $550 million in ZhongAn as part of the IPO, the deal’s prospectus showed.

The IPO adds to the $7.1 billion of new listings so far in 2017 in Hong Kong, which has been looking to attract more technology and so-called new economy companies to sell shares. It was the biggest IPO in the city since the $1.9 billion listing of China Resources Pharmaceutical Group last October.

ZhongAn plans to add life insurance and other healthcare products to the range of policies it offers to accelerate its growth after the IPO, Chief Financial Officer Francis Tang said on Sunday.

It is among several Chinese fintech companies tapping investors to fund expansion as consumers move more of their banking, payments, investing and insurance online. The bulk of such fund-raising has been through private placements.

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

Both Ant Financial and Lufax are considering IPOs in Hong Kong, sources previously told Reuters, though the timing for the deals is uncertain.

($1 = 7.8082 Hong Kong dollars)

Reporting by Fiona Lau of IFR; Writing by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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