Ping An unit closes infrastructure fund with $758m in commitments

Ping An's Shanghai headquarters. Photo: Ping An website

Ping An Overseas Holdings, the direct investment and asset management unit of China Ping An Insurance Group, has announced the close of its new infrastructure fund with about $758 million in capital commitments from investors led by global private investment house Ardian.

In a statement, Ping An Overseas Holdings said, Ping An Global Infrastructure Funds was partially seeded by Ping An Insurance with fund investments and co-investments. The fund focuses on telecommunication, transportation, midstream, power, utilities, and other infrastructure assets.

“The fund provides third-party investors the opportunity to invest alongside Ping An in fund investments and co-investments in the infrastructure sector in primarily OECD countries,” the firm said.

Ping An Overseas Holdings, which offers investment products, asset management, and investment consulting services in areas including private equity, infrastructure, real estate, to capital markets investments in fixed income investments, ETF, among others, has been beefing up its portfolio in China and abroad over the years.

In 2017, the firm led the Series C funding round in Bigo, the Singapore-based startup that owns global lives streaming platform Bigo Live and short-form social video platform Like. Last month, it announced a $150-million equity investment in GDS Holdings, a Chinese developer and operator of high-performance data centres.

“We are very pleased to see the completion of the fundraising for our Global Infrastructure Funds, which marks our first step in successfully turning our strong in-house investment capabilities into making a truly global asset management business,” said the firm’s chairman and CEO Hoi Tung.

Hoi added that the firm aspires to become a leading asset manager in Asia with a focus on alternative asset class investing as well as on applying the latest quantitative research and AI technology to investing.

The anchor investor in the fund, European private equity firm Ardian, has assets of $90 billion in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Founded in 1996, Ardian has 12 offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, and Zurich.

Its Asia Pacific portfolio focuses on China. It has investments in healthcare, insurance consumer goods, telecommunications, energy, and e-commerce.

In December, the private equity firm opened its fourth office in Asia, located in Seoul, South Korea. Joining bases in Singapore, Beijing, and Tokyo, the Seoul office has brought Ardian’s global network to 15 offices across Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

In 2017, Ardian entered into an agreement with European banker UniCredit to acquire stakes at two infrastructure funds for €300 million ($339 million), marking one of the largest secondary infrastructure transactions in 2017.

Commenting on Ardian’s investment in Ping An Overseas Holdings, Jan P. Schmitz, member of the Executive Board and Head of Ardian Asia and Ardian Germany, said the “complex carve-out transaction” is the perfect example of what the firm is able to offer to financial institutions in terms of portfolio and team structuring.

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