Asian Insurer FWD Eyes Hong Kong IPO in 2023

FWD Group Holdings Ltd., the Asian insurer backed by billionaire Richard Li, is weighing 2023 as a new target for its long-awaited Hong Kong initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

FWD, which in May decided to postpone its listing in the Asian financial hub due to a weak market, is working toward a potential share sale as early as the first quarter next year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The insurer has been seeking to raise about $1 billion in an IPO, although the final size hasn’t been formally decided, the people said.

The company plans to refile its listing documents with more recent financial details as soon as next week, the people said. The updated filing would show earnings growth in the first half of this year despite headwinds faced by the industry due to the pandemic, they said.

Considerations are ongoing and details such as size and timing could still change, the people said. A representative for FWD declined to comment.

FWD filed an application for the first-time share sale in February after deciding to switch its listing venue to Hong Kong from the U.S., where it had sought an IPO that could have raised as much as $3 billion. The plan hit a snag amid U.S. regulators’ increasing unease over the long arm of Beijing, after a post-IPO probe of Didi Global Inc. kicked off a wide-ranging crackdown on Chinese firms listed overseas.

The company would follow in the footsteps of other high-profile firms whose IPOs may take place next year instead of 2022, in the hopes of more favorable market conditions. PAG, an Asia-focused private equity firm backed by industry giant Blackstone Inc., is among those considering a delay of its planned Hong Kong IPO to next year, Bloomberg News reported last month.

Top photograph: An FWD Group Holdings Ltd. store in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. FWD Group, the Asian insurer backed by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, filed an application for an initial public offering in the city, after U.S.-China tensions scuppered more ambitious plans for an overseas debut.

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