Tencent's WeDoctor raises $500 million, values firm at $5.5 billion pre-IPO

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese online healthcare solutions platform WeDoctor, which is backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK, said on Wednesday it had raised $500 million from several investors, valuing the firm at $5.5 billion ahead of a listing this year.

The investment round was led by AIA Company Ltd, part of Hong Kong-listed insurer AIA Group Ltd 1299.HK, and infrastructure and services group NWS Holdings Ltd 0659.HK.

WeDoctor is among a spate of technology-driven firms looking to shake up China’s overburdened public healthcare market, with increasingly affluent consumers willing to pay for ways to get more convenient access to doctors and health services.

Founded in 2010, WeDoctor provides diagnosis and online appointment booking, an issue in China where patients often queue outside hospitals from early morning to get an appointment. Users can also consult doctors via the platform.

The pre-IPO fund raising comes after rival Ping An Good Doctor, formally known as Ping An Healthcare and Technology Co Ltd 1833.HK, raised $1.1 billion in an IPO this month but saw its shares tumble soon after as investors worried about its high valuation.

The firm said it would use the funds to accelerate its expansion plans, helping it better tap into the country’s “flourishing and enormous market”.

AIA said it had made a “minority equity investment” in WeDoctor and had an agreement to be its “preferred provider” of life and health insurance, a boost as insurers race to tap into China’s life insurance market, the world’s third largest.

Chinese healthcare spending is set to hit $1 trillion by 2020, up from $357 billion in 2011, according to consultancy McKinsey & Co, with private healthcare providers and insurers looking to take a larger slice of the market.

WeDoctor, which has four main units focused on healthcare, cloud, insurance and pharmaceuticals, said it has on its platform over 2,700 hospitals, 220,000 doctors, 15,000 pharmacies and 27 million monthly active users.

Deutsche Bank advised AIA and WeDoctor on the transaction.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Additional reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Kim Coghill