Insurance survey: Ping An
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Insurance survey: Ping An

In January 2008, Ping An announced a large domestic fund-raising plan: 1.2 billion new Shanghai-listed A shares – 14% of its expanded capital – and $5.7 billion of convertible bonds with warrants. This was the biggest domestic offering in Chinese history.

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It was approved by shareholders in March but still awaits regulatory approval. But Ping An might reduce the size of the fund-raising because of regulatory concerns that the market cannot finance such a large offering.

The amount of capital is probably too big for the acquisition of a rival domestic insurer or asset manager, so there was speculation that the target would be an insurer or bank in a similar foreign market. On March 19 2008, Ping An announced an intention to acquire a 50% equity stake in Fortis Investments. The new partnership will advance Ping An’s strategy to establish a global asset management business and a qualified domestic institutional investor platform.

There is also a rumour that Prudential, an insurance company headquartered in the UK, is a takeover target. Prudential has fund management and life insurance operations in 13 Asian markets. This would help Ping An’s expansion in Asia, by reducing start-up costs and using an existing customer base.

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