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Chinese insurance tech firm Waterdrop raises $230 million, plans U.S. IPO

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese online insurance technology platform Waterdrop Inc has raised $230 million in a new funding round led by reinsurer Swiss Re SRENH.S and Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings 0700.HK, it said on Thursday.

Waterdrop’s existing investors, including IDG Capital and Wisdom Choice Global Fund, also participated, it said in a statement.

Two sources with knowledge of the fundraising told Reuters that Waterdrop was valued at nearly $2 billion in the funding round. One of them said that Swiss Re itself had invested $100 million.

Swiss Re declined to comment on its investment size, but said the company’s participation in the round was part of its long-term commitment to China.

The fundraising comes ahead of Waterdrop’s initial public offering plan in the United States, according to two separate people.

The company has hired Bank of America BAC.N and Goldman Sachs GS.N for the float, which could happen as early as this year, the people said. They added that preparations were still in the initial stages.

Waterdrop and the two banks declined to comment. The sources could not be named due to confidentiality constraints.

Founded in 2016, Beijing-headquartered Waterdrop distributes insurance policies online via Waterdrop Insurance Mall, provides illness crowd-funding via its platform Waterdrop Crowdfunding, and operates mutual funds.

The insurance business, with 120 million unique policy holders, reported a total written premium of $865 million in the first half of this year, the company said in its statement. It expects to double its total written premium in 2020.

With the new capital, Waterdrop said it will tap into artificial intelligence and big data for its products and services, and accelerate its initiatives in medical and healthcare services.

Waterdrop, founded by Shen Peng, a former executive at Chinese food delivery and local services giant Meituan Dianping 3690.HK, also counts his ex-employer as an investor.

Reporting by Kane Wu and Scott Murdoch; Additional reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Jan Harvey

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