Richard Li-backed insurer FWD postpones Hong Kong IPO plan for second time amid stock-market doldrums

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FWD Group Holdings, the Hong Kong-based insurer backed by billionaire Richard Li Tzar-kai, has decided to postpone its Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) for the second time due to ongoing market volatility.
The insurer, which marked its 10th anniversary in August, refiled its application to list on the city’s stock exchange in March this year. It aimed to use the proceeds from the IPO to support growth and the enhancement of its digital capabilities and strategy.
The attempted Hong Kong listings came after the insurer shelved a plan to list in New York in 2021 amid ongoing US-China tensions. It had aimed to raise up to US$3 billion in New York in September 2021, which would have valued the company at US$13 billion.
Bull statues sit outside Exchange Square, in Hong Kong on August 18, 2023. IPO activity has dropped amid a 9.2 loss for the Hang Seng Index this year. Photo: Reuters

“The [Hong Kong stock] market condition is not good,” said a source familiar with the matter, who added that the company is in no rush to list because it is financially strong.

The Hang Seng Index was headed for a seventh day of slide on Thursday, taking the losses to 9.2 per cent this year, making it the worst performer among the world’s key stock benchmarks as overseas investors sold amid jitters about China’s dire economic outlook and frayed ties with the US. So far this year, 35 companies have started trading in the city after raising a combined US$2.7 billion from IPOs, according to Bloomberg data. In 2022, 72 companies raised a total of US$12.5 billion.

FWD said it has not abandoned the plan and “will assess the appropriate time to further re-file the application”.

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The company, which ranks among the top three insurers in Thailand and the Philippines, announced its six-month performance two weeks ago, posting a 22 per cent year on year increase in the total value of new business to US$482 million. The company also reported a 56 per cent increase in its segmental adjusted operating profit before tax to US$307 million.


Huynh Thank Phong, group chief executive officer and executive director of FWD, said the solid results in its largest markets of Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan were “complemented by its emerging markets segment, which for the first time ever delivered a positive contribution to our pre-tax operating profit”.

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Founded in 2013, FWD has expanded to 10 markets across Asia: Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. It has more than 10 million customers with total premiums worth US$6.3 billion.


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