Ping An to launch $1bn fintech fund

The Chinese insurer will target financial and healthcare technology investments globally.

Ping An Insurance Group has launched the Ping An Global Voyager Fund, a $1 billion fintech and health tech-focused vehicle, the company said on Thursday.

The fund will be managed from Hong Kong and will invest in fintech and health-tech businesses globally, largely excluding China. Through the fund, potential investee companies will be able to gain access to the insurer’s 138 million customers, 1.2 million agents as well as 6,000 branches and extensive digital distribution assets in China, the firm said in a statement.

Among its latest fintech and health tech investments include Shanghai-based lending platform Lufax and medical service mobile app Ping An Good Doctor. By end-2016, valuations for Lufax and Ping An Good Doctor reached $18.5 billion and $3 billion respectively.

The Chinese insurer has also appointed Jonathan Larsen, a former head of retail banking at Citigroup, as chairman and CEO of Ping An Global Voyager Fund.

Larsen has close to 30 years of experience in the finance industry with over 18 years at Citi in various positions including head of Asia Pacific consumer business, CEO of Citibank Singapore, and head of wealth management Asia. Prior to joining Citi, Larsen was a principal in the global management consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton, advising financial institutions across Asia and globally.

Along with managing the fund, Larsen will also serve as chief innovation officer of the group.

Ping An Life, a subsidiary of Ping An Insurance Group and China’s second largest insurer with $300 billion of total assets, has been increasing its allocation to alternative assets in recent years in a bid to diversify its asset base away from fixed income investments.

According to its 2016 annual report, the firm upped its allocation to private equity, infrastructure projects and non-listed equity investments by as much as 38 billion yuan ($5.5 billion; €5.1 billion) and dropped its exposure to bonds, stocks and debt investments.

From 2011 to 2016, the insurer has also backed private equity funds including Qiming Venture Partners’ 1.5 billion yuan Qiming RMB Fund IV, Primavera Capital Group’s $2 billion Primavera Capital Fund I (Chunhua Fund I), and Fosun Capital Group’s 8 billion yuan Zhe Shang Growth Fund, according to PEI data.