Tencent-Backed WeDoctor Is Hiring New CFO to Lead Hong Kong IPO

(Bloomberg) -- WeDoctor, one of China’s biggest online health-care startups, is hiring a new chief financial officer to spearhead a Hong Kong initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

John Cai, formerly chief executive for AIA Group Ltd.’s operations in key markets including China, Malaysia and Vietnam, will join as CFO in a few weeks, the people said, requesting not to be named because the matter is private. Cai will oversee the company’s listing and potentially a pre-IPO financing round, the people said. WeDoctor has reached out to investment banks and is expected to pick underwriters over the next few months, they said.

WeDoctor, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., joins a growing contingent of tech giants hoping to revolutionize a traditional health-care industry after the novel coronavirus underscored its shortcomings. The startup, whose business spans insurance policies and medical supplies to online appointment-booking and physical clinics, is aiming for a $10 billion valuation when it eventually goes public, one of the people said, almost double its last price tag of around $5.5 billion. The startup is currently targeting an IPO in late 2020 or 2021, another person said.

A WeDoctor representative declined to comment in an emailed statement. An AIA representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Covid-19 epidemic 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 said in a statement 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, the people said. And it’s still too early to judge whether it can achieve its $10 billion valuation target, one of the people said.

Cai, who joined AIA in 2009, helped the insurer bolster its business in China before driving expansions in Vietnam and Malaysia. He will also join WeDoctor’s board as vice chairman, the people said. His new employer 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.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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