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Feb. 25, 2019, 3:21 p.m. EST

China : Ping An plans IPO of fintech unit at US$8b value

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Feb 25, 2019 (Euclid Infotech Ltd via COMTEX) -- Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, China's largest insurer by market value, is gearing up for an initial public offering of its OneConnect unit that could value the financial management portal at about US$8 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ping An is now targeting to list OneConnect in Hong Kong as soon as the second half of this year, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The share sale could raise roughly US$1 billion, according to the people.

The insurance giant initially had a fundraising goal of as much as US$3 billion last year, before an increasingly volatile market forced it to push back the listing. Ping An tempered its valuation expectations and may offer a smaller stake in the business after OneConnect's business performance wasn't as strong as initially projected, one person said.

A OneConnect spinoff and IPO would be one of the highest-profile deals in Hong Kong since a rapidly decelerating Chinese economy chilled public funding and the country's tech space. It would help propel Ping An's longer-term strategy to transform itself into a financial technology powerhouse.

The tech-heavy MSCI China Index has risen 20 per cent from its January low. Deliberations are still at an early stage, and details of the OneConnect offering including the valuation and fundraising size could change depending on market sentiment, the people said. Gareth Hewett, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment.

OneConnect provides cloud computing and other technology services to small- and medium-sized financial institutions. It's partnered with more than 460 banks as well as over 1,800 other financial services firms from insurers and brokerages to fund managers and private-equity houses, according to Ping An's 2017 annual report. The Ping An subsidiary has previously raised US$650 million in a series A financing round that valued the company at US$7.4 billion.

Ping An last year spun off and floated Ping An Healthcare and Technology Co. That company, known as Good Doctor, provides platforms used by hospitals, insurers and pharmacies.

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