This undated photo shows Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, who is said to lay the groundwork for a potential initial public offering of his insurance company FWD Group. (PAUL YEUNG / BLOOMBERG)
Billionaire Richard Li’s FWD Group Ltd is nearing a deal to raise more than $1.4 billion in a private placement as the Asian insurer prepares for a potential Hong Kong initial public offering after its US listing plan stalled, according to people familiar with the matter.
New investors backing the company include Apollo Global Management Inc and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Some existing shareholders including Swiss Re also participated in the round, which is likely to be announced as early as Tuesday, the people said.
The company would reach a valuation after the round of about $9 billion, which would imply about 1.2 to 1.3 times embedded value, the people said. The proceeds would help FWD boost growth and substantially reduce its debt, which had ballooned after years of acquisitions across Southeast Asia, the people said.
FWD Group Ltd would reach a valuation after the round of about $9 billion, which would imply about 1.2 to 1.3 times embedded value, said the people familiar with the matter. The proceeds would help FWD boost growth and substantially reduce its debt, the people said
New investors are set to contribute more than half of the private fundraising deal, the people said.
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FWD is switching its focus to list in Hong Kong as early as next year, after plans for a potential US listing hit a snag, the people said. Recent market volatility and feedback from investors also factored into the decision, the people said.
While FWD had secured approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission to begin marketing the IPO to investors, the company decided to switch its venue to Hong Kong, they said.
The listing could have raised as much as $2 billion, Bloomberg News has reported.
A representative for FWD Group declined to comment, while representatives for Apollo, CPPIB and Swiss Re didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment made outside normal business hours.
READ MORE: Insurer FWD files for New York listing
The value of the insurer’s new business climbed 45 percent in the first half of 2021 from a year earlier. In the third-quarter, the same figure – a key metric of profitability – grew year over year by more than 20 percent, according to its SEC filings.