Ping An’s Voyager brings good health to PE
The fund is deploying $1 billion of the Chinese group’s money into digital medicine and fintech around the world, but profit is not its main ambition.
Jonathan Larsen, Ping An
In the increasingly crowded field of home-grown Chinese private equity and venture capital, one member of the throng is doing its own thing. Ping An Global Voyager is a $1 billion fund whose number-one priority is not its returns.
“I’m not going to be a very popular fellow if we don’t deliver a reasonable return on Ping An and [founder] Peter Ma’s dollars,” says Jonathan Larsen, chairman and chief executive of the fund and chief innovation officer across the whole Ping An group. “But financial return is not the primary criteria. The objective is much more than that.”
Instead, Larsen says, the objective is “a way of extending Ping An’s access to capabilities.”
It is principally about buying its way into emerging innovation outside China and bringing that expertise back for the group to assimilate and build upon.
“We do a lot of internal R&D, but there is an enormous amount of innovation going on, in fintech and digital health in particular,” he says.
Those two fields are the priority of the fund, which launched last year with $1 billion to deploy.
Getting China to a world-class health system is going to be very expensive, given the scale of the country - Jonathan Larsen, Ping An
Getting to grips with the opportunity is not easy – Larsen estimates 7,500 players each in financial technology and in digital health – but at the time Euromoney speaks with him, at the IMF annual meeting in Bali in October, the fund has put $100 million to work.