New Ping An Insurance Fund Is Hunting for Fintech Investments

By Julie Steinberg Features Dow Jones Newswires

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. is using a newly-launched fund to hunt for financial technology and health care-technology investments in the $10 million to $30 million range, a top executive said Friday.

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The largest insurer in the world by market capitalization, Ping An will focus on strategic investments in "people we can learn from" with the potential for joint-venture and distribution agreements, Chief Innovation Officer Jonathan Larsen said at The Wall Street Journal's D.Live Asia 2017 conference in Hong Kong.

Mr. Larsen joined Ping An in May from Citigroup Inc., where he was global head of retail banking; he runs the insurer's $1 billion Hong-Kong based investment fund. The investments will be made solely with Ping An's money for now, he said. For early-stage investments, Ping An will join with other funds.

The insurer has long focused on technology as the backbone of its business, backing companies like Chinese online lender Lufax and developing mobile health apps such as Good Doctor, through which users can consult physicians.

Ping An "is going to be a data business," Mr. Larsen said, noting that the company has 20,000 tech developers and platforms that run on blockchain and research in voice and facial recognition. He said the company is open to codeveloping technology with partners.

Discussing banks in the context of the fintech transformation, Mr. Larsen said those institutions have "layers and layers" of technology that are costly and complex to change, even if there are "the best intentions" to try to evolve.

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Write to Julie Steinberg at julie.steinberg@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 09, 2017 01:02 ET (05:02 GMT)