Ping An hunts for Europe acquisitions

Chinese, US and European currency.

China-based Ping An Insurance Group is reportedly on the hunt for acquisitions in the European market, with a particular focus on Germany. This is according to the insurance and financial services entity’s Innovations Chief Jonathan Larsen, speaking at a recent conference in Munich.

Ping An, which invests significant amounts annually in digital startups, sees Germany as the heart of Europe’s insurtech market. Insurers in Europe, while generally supportive of the entry of insurtechs into the market, are reportedly suspicious of the possibility of major Chinese insurers expanding their digital and insurance operations into the continent, seeing them as a potential threat. Ping An, which generated US$85 billion in revenue in the first half of this year, has built an extensive, intricate network of technology partners, subsidiaries and other partner entities in China, which serve as a solid bedrock for a major expansion of digital operations. It owns the biggest private health insurer in China, as well as a provider of cloud services, a credit reporting firm and Ping An Good Doctor, its own online clinical healthcare platform, which has over 230 million users. European institutions are apparently wary of the potential impact of a business model such as this, particularly if they were to become tailored specifically for the European market.

“Ping An is creating vertically integrated online to offline offerings in the growing healthcare and fintech industries to sustain revenue growth,” commented Paul Schulte, Founder of Schulte Research International.

Any moves that Ping An makes in Europe will no doubt be carefully timed and executed with caution; 10 years ago, it dipped its toes into the European market with the acquisition of a five-per-cent stake in Fortis Group, which subsequently collapsed, leading to the Chinese company having to write off $2.3 billion.