Report: Ping An refutes private equity rumours

The Chinese insurance heavyweight has said it has no plans to launch an RMB 20bn private equity fund in 2009, as media reports suggested earlier this week.

Shenzhen-headquartered Ping An Insurance Group has refuted media reports suggesting that it will launch a private equity business with initial capital of RMB20 billion ($2.9 billion; €2.2 billion).

The insurance company has no plans to set up a private equity subsidiary in 2009, Sheng Ruisheng, a Ping An spokesman, told business news site China Knowledge.

Earlier in the week, sources close to the matter told Reuters that Ping An Capital will make investments in unlisted companies, as well as in infrastructure projects such as bridges and ports, corporate bonds and real estate projects. The report noted that Ping An has begun applying for regulatory approvals.

Ping An Insurance has previous experience with private equity. In 1994, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia invested $35 million in the company. It turned out to be one of the most successful private equity deals in China. MSPE Asia made a 14-fold return through a partial sale of its stake at the time of Ping An’s IPO in 2004, and a subsequent sale of its remaining stake in 2005.

The Ping An Insurance Group is among the largest financial service players in China. Services it provides include insurance coverage, investment and wealth management, asset management, commercial banking, corporate pensions and securities brokerage.

Ping An Life, the flagship company of the group, is China’s second largest life insurance company, and Ping An Property & Casualty is the third largest property and casualty insurance company in the country, according to the company’s website. The group is the largest non-state owned enterprise in China in terms of operating income, according to Fortune magazine.

Ping An could not be reached for comment.