Tencent-backed WeDoctor said to pick banks for Hong Kong IPO

Photo: Reuters

WeDoctor, one of China’s biggest online health-care startups, has selected JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group AG and CMB International to lead a Hong Kong initial public offering, people familiar with the deal said.

The startup could become one of the largest technology companies to brave volatile public markets in 2020. WeDoctor envisions raising at least $500 million and as much as $1 billion, one of the people said, asking to remain anonymous discussing a private deal. The details could change given that deliberations are ongoing, the people said. More banks may be invited to join the deal in future, one person said.

WeDoctor, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., joins a growing contingent of tech giants hoping to revolutionize a traditional health-care industry after the coronavirus pandemic underscored its shortcomings. The company is on the prowl for expansion capital and last month laid the foundation for a public debut by hiring finance overseer John Cai, formerly chief executive for AIA Group Ltd.’s operations in markets including China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The startup, whose business spans insurance policies and medical supplies to online appointment-booking and clinics, was last valued at around $5.5 billion. It’s said to be targeting a float in late 2020 or 2021.

WeDoctor, JPMorgan and Credit Suisse representatives declined to comment. A CMB representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. IFR first reported on the selection.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought inadequacies in the country’s medical care system into stark relief, exposing an over-reliance on big hospitals in major cities and flaws in how the state responds to emergencies, even with a mechanism built after the SARS outbreak in 2003. The startup has said it launched an online platform dedicated to treating coronavirus cases on Jan. 23 and has helped facilitate 1.4 million consultations with doctors in the month since it began.

Longer term, startups like WeDoctor could play a pivotal role in a nationwide effort to wrench its ailing healthcare sector into the modern age. Beijing envisions a 16 trillion yuan ($2.3 trillion) healthcare industry by 2030 and, in a blueprint laid out in 2016 called “Healthy China 2030,” vowed to improve public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities to match those of developed countries.

Founded by artificial intelligence maven Jerry Liao Jieyuan in 2010, WeDoctor aims to compete with both fellow startups and major corporations such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in the burgeoning field of online healthcare.

It needs capital to expand. It has yet to decide whether to include its cloud business — where sensitive patient information and government data reside — in the envisioned Hong Kong public offering, people familiar with the matter have said.

WeDoctor counts China Development Bank Capital, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. and AIA as backers. The company said in a statement it connects 360,000 doctors with some 210 million registered users.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.