Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li’s FWD to raise up to $3bn in US IPO

18 Jun, 2021 08:45
source: Singularity Financial

Singularity Financial Hong Kong June 18, 2021 –  FWD, the acquisitive Asian insurer backed by billionaire Richard Li, has filed confidentially for a U.S. initial public offering in what would be one of the year’s biggest listings.

The holding company of FWD Ltd. and FWD Group Ltd. has confidentially submitted a draft registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the planned share sale, according to a statement on Thursday. The statement, which confirms an earlier Bloomberg News report, didn’t specify the size and timeline of the offering.

The company launched by Richard Li in 2013 said on Thursday the number of American depositary shares to be offered and the price range for the IPO had not yet been determined and the timing of the listing was subject to regulatory approval. But the company could seek $2-3bn from the share sale, according to people familiar with the situation.

FWD has expanded aggressively across Asia, rapidly rolling out a network across 10 countries including Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.

The insurer has almost 10m customers, more than $63bn in assets and about 6,100 employees as well as 33,000 agents.

Li started FWD with the $1.2bn acquisition of ING’s pension and insurance businesses in Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau. The expansion strategy of Huynh Thanh Phong, FWD’s chief executive, has focused on pairing moves into new Asian markets with the use of technology to reduce the paperwork and complexity common to the industry in the region.

The group has swallowed up competitors as rival financial groups have retreated from the region, including MetLife’s Hong Kong business and the insurance business of Thailand’s Siam Commercial bank, the industry’s largest-ever takeover in south-east Asia.

As part of preparations for the IPO, FWD Group is seeking approval from its dollar bondholders to substitute itself with its holding company PCGI Intermediate Holdings Ltd., which is the entity seeking the U.S. listing, the Hong Kong filing shows. PCGI plans to restructure the outstanding debt of FWD Group and FWD Ltd. in order to centralize the treasury functions. The options include transferring the debt to PCGI and repaying or refinancing those borrowings.