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Ping An health app nearing US$400m softbank funding: sources

[HONG KONG] SoftBank Group is nearing a deal to invest about US$400 million in Ping An Insurance (Group) Co's healthcare portal ahead of the Chinese company's initial public offering (IPO), people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Ping An unit, known as Good Doctor, aims to file an IPO application with the Hong Kong stock exchange as soon as the end of January, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private deal. It wasn't immediately clear whether the Good Doctor investment would be made by SoftBank itself or through the Vision Fund that it manages.

China is a key target for the Japanese tech investor. SoftBank, which is run by Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, contributed US$5 billion to last year's $5.5 billion fundraising by Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing. It was also a cornerstone investor in ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance's Hong Kong IPO. Shares of the insurer have risen 20 per cent since their September debut.

Users of Good Doctor's mobile app can get a quick online diagnosis within two minutes after posting their symptoms, according to its website. The app also provides health tips, offers purchases of supplements and can keep track of daily workouts.

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Other investors had also expressed interest in buying stakes in Good Doctor, and details of the fundraising could change, according to the people. Representatives for Ping An and SoftBank declined to comment.

Good Doctor is preparing for an IPO amid a rally in the city's benchmark Hang Seng Index, which hit an all-time high this month. First-time share sales in Hong Kong raised US$16.5 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

SoftBank has also been weighing investments in other Ping An units including Lufax, China's largest online-financing company, and OneConnect, which offers AI-powered (artificial intelligence) services such risk management to financial companies, people familiar with the matter said last month. The fund would look to take between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of the companies, the people said at the time.

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