Tycoon Richard Li’s insurer FWD refiles for Hong Kong IPO

FWD Group Holdings, the Asian insurer backed by billionaire Richard Li, has refiled an application for a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) as it now weighs a listing next year amid market volatility.

The renewed filing will grant more time for the insurer to continue with preparations for a share sale in the city. The company has been seeking to raise about US$1 billion in an IPO, which could take place as early as the first quarter, although the final size and timing haven't been formally decided, Bloomberg News reported this month.

FWD's value of new business rose 24.6 per cent year-on-year to US$405 million in the first half of 2022, on a constant exchange rate basis, according to the latest filing on Tuesday (Sep 13). While the company reported an adjusted loss of US$333 million for the 6 months ended Jun 30, its operating profit before tax jumped about 111 per cent to US$200 million from a year ago, a separate statement shows.

FWD was initially looking to go public in the US, where it had filed for an IPO that could have raised as much as US$3 billion. The plan hit a snag amid US regulators' increasing unease over the long arm of the Chinese government after a post-IPO probe of Didi Global kicked off a wide-ranging crackdown on overseas-listed firms.

The insurer in December switched its listing venue to Hong Kong and first applied for a share sale in the Asian financial hub 2 months later. However, the company in May decided to postpone due to weak market conditions. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group, China Merchants International and JPMorgan Chase & Co are the joint sponsors of the Hong Kong IPO.

FWD earlier raised more than US$1.6 billion in private placements with investors including an insurer backed by Apollo Global Management. The placements were set to value the company at about US$9 billion, which would imply about 1.2 to 1.3 times its embedded value, people familiar with the matter said at the time. BLOOMBERG



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