Ping An Insurance

Ping An launches new fund to tap opportunities in health care and finance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 3:46pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 10:59pm

Ping An Insurance (Group), the country’s largest insurer by market value, aims to position itself five years ahead of competitors by investing in global fintech and health care technologies companies through its newly formed US$1 billion fund.

“We see technology as redefining the markets and businesses of the finance and health sectors,” said Ping An Global Voyager Fund chairman and chief executive Jonathan Larsen. “This fund is designed to access leading technology and to accelerate Ping An’s competitive position.”

Larsen, a former banker at Citigroup, said the newly-formed fund would be based in Hong Kong and invest globally, but also have the freedom to pivot when necessary to take advantage of opportunities.

The fund may see “an opportunity to identify a platform that could be good for the expansion internationally,” he said.

“There are 5,000 fintech companies in the world, and that doesn’t count block chain and doesn’t count security,” Larsen said in an interview with the Post. “We cannot cover them all.”

In the early stages, the fund will most likely work with partner funds in the capacity of a limited partner or as a general partner, he said.

“The first tranche of our fund will be a series of partnerships with funds which specialise in early stage investment in tech companies.....This is the most efficient way to cover the market.”

The fund will also invest in growth companies and companies that are undergoing accelerated growth. The fund will also seek out special investment opportunities. The typical investment size will range from US$10 million with international funds to US$100 million for fast-growing companies. For special projects, total investment could be even higher.

To illustrate his point, Larsen said that the fund could theoretically partner with a mobile phone company in an emerging market which has an established client base and network platform. Such an arrangement would likely see Ping An provide financing, he said.

Ping An is the third largest insurance company in the world. The insurer has 5.5 trillion yuan (US$ 798 billion) in asset and reported 2016 revenue of 774.4 billion yuan.

Larsen spent 18 years at Citigroup prior to joining Ping An earlier this year. He also holds the post of chief innovation officer at Ping An.

“Over time, we would like to develop a more structured way of assessing innovation within the company,” he said.

“That could entail overhauling the existing business model, or it could be creating a new business entirely.”