Richard Li’s FWD Leaning Toward U.S. for $3 Billion IPO

FWD Group Ltd., the acquisitive Asian insurance firm backed by billionaire Richard Li, is leaning toward New York as its preferred venue for an initial public offering this year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company, whose business spans Southeast Asia, Japan and Hong Kong, is seeking to raise about $3 billion through an IPO in the U.S. as soon as the third quarter, the people said. A deal could value the insurer at more than $15 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

FWD is working with advisers to adjust its accounting records to U.S. standards and plans to file with regulators in the second quarter, the people said. A U.S. listing would allow Li to keep control of the company via his investment manager Pacific Century Group, one of the people said.

The insurer has been considering a range of options over the last few months including a first-time share sale in Hong Kong, Bloomberg News reported in September. FWD has also weighed plans such as a U.S. listing through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, the people said.

No final decision has been made and the other potential routes to a listing remain under consideration, the people said. A representative for FWD declined to comment.

Founded in 2013, FWD has made numerous acquisitions across Asia in recent years. It has a presence in countries including Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia, according to its website. Its minority shareholders include fellow insurer Swiss Re AG as well as GIC Ventures, RRJ Capital and Hopu Investments.

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