Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li's FWD Group is considering listing in Singapore with a dual-class structure, as the insurer moves ahead with its initial public offering preparations, reports Bloomberg quoting people with knowledge of the matter.
FWD is discussing with advisers the merits of listing in Singapore using such a structure, which can offer enhanced voting power to protect the influence of founders and management, according to the people. The insurer has consulted Singapore Exchange (SGX) officials about the possibility, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private.
The Hong Kong-based company, which manages more than $26.6bn of assets, is also considering its home city as a potential listing venue, the people said. FWD has started laying the groundwork for an IPO that could take place in the next couple years, Bloomberg News reported last month.
No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, according to the people. Representatives for FWD and SGX declined to comment.
FWD’s backers include Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC. Other investors include Swiss Re, the world’s second largest reinsurer, and Asian private equity firm RRJ Capital.
Mr Li, the son of Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing, has been building FWD through acquisitions over the last five years. He formed the company after spending $2.1bn to buy ING Groep’s insurance and pension units in Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand in 2013.
Since then, FWD has expanded in Japan and Southeast Asia and tied up with banks in the region to sell its insurance policies. The insurer had over 2.7m customers spread across eight Asian markets at the end of last year, its website shows.
Thailand is FWD’s biggest market in terms of customers, followed by its Hong Kong and Macau business, according to its website.