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Chinese tech billionaires said to join US$1.7b Taiping sale

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Funds backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma and Tencent Holdings Ltd chairman Ma Huateng are buying shares in the private placement, the people said on Thursday, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

[HONG KONG] China's two richest technology moguls are among investors in China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co's US$1.7 billion share sale, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Funds backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma and Tencent Holdings Ltd chairman Ma Huateng are buying shares in the private placement, the people said on Thursday, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The Chinese insurer planned to sell 486 million shares at HK$27.74 apiece, a 5 per cent discount to its Wednesday closing price, according to a Hong Kong exchange filing.

Taiping follows rivals New China Life Insurance Co and PICC Property & Casualty Co in selling stock to take advantage of a rally that has driven Hong Kong's benchmark index to a seven-year high. Alibaba's Ma also bought shares in Ping An Insurance Group Co's US$4.75 billion private placement in December, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

HSBC Holdings Plc, Citigroup Inc, UBS Group AG, CCB International Capital Ltd, China International Capital Corp and CMB International Capital Ltd arranged the Taiping sale, according to Thursday's statement.

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Alibaba's Ma is the second-richest person in China with a US$35.7 billion fortune, while the Tencent chairman has a US$19.3 billion net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Taiping said she couldn't immediately comment. Alibaba spokeswoman Melanie Lee declined to comment while Canny Lo, a spokeswoman for Tencent, didn't respond to two phone calls and an e-mail seeking comment.

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