December 3, 2019 / 6:55 AM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-Ping An's OneConnect launches up to $504 mln U.S. IPO in down round: sources

(Adds deal details, Ping An, OneConnect comment, changes date in dateline)

By Julie Zhu

HONG KONG, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Ping An Insurance’s OneConnect Financial Technology launched a U.S. initial public offering (IPO) of up to $504 million on Tuesday, reducing both its target offering size and valuation.

The unit of China’s biggest insurer by market value, Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd, is selling 36 million American depositary shares (ADSs) at an indicative range of $12 to $14 a share, according to its updated prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The price range values OneConnect at between about $4.5 billion and $5.5 billion in its long-awaited public offering, said people with knowledge of the matter. That is well below its $7.5 billion valuation last year when it raised $750 million in its maiden funding round from investors including Japan’s SoftBank and Japanese financial firm SBI Group.

That potentially would make for a down round - a fall in valuation following a new investment - of a tech-related firm.

The float comes as tech investor SoftBank smarts from the abandoned share sale of major portfolio firm WeWork, as well as its first quarterly loss in 14 years dragged down by an $8.9 billion hit at its giant Vision Fund, through which it invested in OneConnect.

Ping An and OneConnect declined to comment on the latter’s valuation. The people declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.

OneConnect, which provides technology solutions to small and medium-sized financial institutions, was eyeing a valuation of about $8 billion and an IPO of up to $1 billion, sources told Reuters in June.

It changed the listing venue to New York from Hong Kong a few months ago in the hope of achieving a higher valuation, Reuters reported, with massive anti-government protests in Hong Kong making markets jittery.

If a “greenshoe” or over-allotment option is fully exercised, the company could raise up to $580 million. Each ADS represents three ordinary shares, the prospectus showed.

OneConnect had revenue of 1.55 billion yuan ($218 million) in the first nine months of 2019, up 72% from the same period a year earlier, but losses widened to 1 billion yuan from 579 million yuan, according to its prospectus.

OneConnect’s bookbuilding will run until Dec. 12. It is due to begin trading on Dec. 13 on the New York Exchange under the symbol “OCFT”.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are among the main banks working on the IPO. (Reporting by Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Stephen Coates)

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