Ping An Insurance-backed fintech unicorn Lufax files for US stock offering

Lufax Holding, the operator of one of China’s biggest online wealth management platform, filed to go public in the US market, the latest Chinese company to shrug off concerns about worsening relations between the world’s two largest economies.

The Shanghai-based company is backed by China’s biggest insurer Ping An Insurance (Group) and follows in the footsteps of the insurer’s unit OneConnect Financial Technology, which raised US$312 million in its New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) debut in December.

Lufax said it plans to list its American depositary shares on the NYSE under the symbol, LU, it said in a regulatory filing early Thursday.

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Lufax did not disclose the size of its offering, using a common place holder figure of US$100 million in its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. But sources have said the IPO could raise between US$2 billion and US$3 billion.

Lufax was valued at US$39.4 billion during its last-known funding round at the end of 2018. It previously considered a Hong Kong listing in 2018, but that never materialised. Details of potential US listing by Cayman Island-registered Lufax first emerged in July.

In Thursday’s filing, Lufax showed it had a net profit of 7.2 billion yuan (US$1.03 billion) for the six months to June 30. It reported a net profit of 7.5 billion yuan a year earlier.

The company said it plans to use the proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, including product development, sales and marketing activities and improving its technology infrastructure.

The company stopped facilitating new peer-to-peer loans in August last year. As of June 30, outstanding peer-to-peer loans as a percentage of total client assets had declined to 12.8 per cent.

Goldman Sachs, BofA Securities, UBS, HSBC and China PA Securities (Hong Kong) are serving as lead underwriters on the offering.

The performance of various indices over the last 10 US presidential terms alt=The performance of various indices over the last 10 US presidential terms

Lufax is one of several Chinese firms that have moved ahead with a US offerings this year despite efforts by the Trump administration to restrict access by Chinese firms to the US capital markets and technology.

In August, the Trump administration threatened to delist Chinese companies from US bourses and urged American college and university endowments to sell their holdings of Chinese stocks, including companies in emerging market index funds.

At the same time, a number of high-profile US listed Chinese firms, including, NetEase and mainland KFC operator Yum China, sought secondary listings in Hong Kong this year or engaged in take-private deals as tensions rose between Washington and Beijing this year.

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The listing by Lufax has come after the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) raising US$20.65 billion in IPOs for the first nine months this year across 28 deals, with the amount raised down 6 per cent from a year ago, according to data from Refinitiv. The NYSE still ranked behind Nasdaq, which raised US$31.94 billion across 111 deals for the period.

Bankers and IPO advisers said the various measures by the US to restrict Chinese companies’ access to its capital market have led to some prospective Chinese issuers to think harder and longer when they assess the pros and cons of a US listing.

But the more diverse spectrum of institutional investor base in the US has remained attractive to some Chinese tech companies, who might view that they could fetch a fairer valuation through a listing in the US, rather than in Hong Kong or China.

There are 217 Chinese companies listed in the US on its major bourses, having a combined market capitalisation of US$2.2 trillion as of October 2, according to a recent report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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