Ping An Insurance has gained a foothold in China’s internet finance market after a private placement that drew the country’s biggest players in the fast-growing sector.
Ping An raised HK$36.5 billion (US$4.7 billion) on Sunday in Hong Kong’s biggest standalone equity fundraising this year.
More than the cash, the insurer put itself in pole position to seize market share in the nascent internet finance industry after the founders of Alibaba and Tencent bought shares in the company, according to the Financial Times.
“Ping An has been actively trying to shift its business model towards internet finance. And the other two have been looking to build up more brick and mortar businesses to support the expansion of their internet ventures,” said Li Jun, an insurance analyst at Changjiang Securities in Shanghai.
“Those two can offer access to their huge user bases and marketing channels while Ping An can provide products and funding support.”
The investment is the latest made jointly by Jack Ma and Pony Ma, China’s two most famous internet entrepreneurs.
Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group, made a personal investment in Ping An, a source at Alibaba told the Financial Times. Financial magazine Caijing reported that Pony Ma, founder and chairman of Tencent Holdings, also bought shares.
It is unclear how much either man bought.
The involvement of China’s biggest technology founders is the latest investment collaboration between the “Three Mas”, a group that includes Jack Ma, Pony Ma and Ping An chairman Ma Mingzhe.
The trio invested in Huayi Brothers Media, a film and television production company, in a collaboration between Alibaba and Tencent, in November.
In 2012 the group co-invested in a new web-based property insurance company, Zhong An Insurance.
Privately owned Ping An, which controls separately listed Ping An Bank, has been among China’s most aggressive groups in pursuing internet finance ventures.
Its affiliates include Lufax.com, the peer-to-peer lending platform, and online payment company 1qianbao.com.
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