June 30, 2017 / 8:27 AM / in a month

Chinese online insurer ZhongAn files for up to $1.5 billion HK IPO: IFR

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - ZhongAn Online Property and Casualty Insurance Co Ltd, China's first internet-only insurer, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong worth up to $1.5 billion, IFR reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the plans.

The insurer expects to list as early as the end of 2017, reported IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

ZhongAn declined to comment on its IPO plans when contacted by Reuters.

ZhongAn, whose shareholders include Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) affiliate Ant Financial [ANTFIN.UL], had been considering an IPO in China or Hong Kong.

Uncertainty over the timing of the approval to list in China prompted ZhongAn to choose Hong Kong, a person familiar with the plans previously told Reuters.

ZhongAn has said in market presentations and on its website that it offers more than 300 insurance products and has written more than 7.56 billion policies for more than 535 million customers.

The insurer was founded in November 2013 by Tencent chairman Pony Ma, Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma and Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd (601318.SS) (2318.HK) chairman Ma Mingzhe. Tencent and Ping An retain 12 percent stakes, while Ant Financial holds 16 percent.

ZhongAn's main type of product, accounting for 50 percent of business last year, is insurance that online shoppers buy to cover shipping costs in case they decide to return goods, Chief Operating Officer Wayne Xu said at a presentation in November.

That was followed by insurance against flight delays, bought when booking travel tickets online, he said.

Reporting by Fiona Lau of IFR Writing by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing

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