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Exclusive: Tycoon Richard Li’s FWD considers shifting US IPO to Hong Kong


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: FWD’s company logo can be seen in the lobby at a Hong Kong commercial building, where it has one of its offices. This was August 28, 2018, in Hong Kong. REUTERS/Bobby Yip


Scott Murdoch, Julie Zhu, and Kane Wu

HONG KONG, (Reuters) – FWD Group in Asia, owned by Richard Li of Hong Kong, may shift its $2-3 billion US share sale to Hong Kong. Two sources who have direct knowledge of this matter said that FWD Group is considering shifting the transaction.

Sources told Reuters that the Hong Kong-based firm, which had filed confidentially for New York’s initial public offering (IPO) in June, is now considering switching to the United States amid delays from U.S. regulators and low interest from investors.

When Reuters asked FWD about a potential change to the venue for listing, a spokesperson declined to respond.

Sources had previously indicated that the insurer is still waiting to be approved by U.S. regulators to allow its IPO to proceed before the end the year.

A source claimed that delays raised fears about whether approval will be denied. Another source stated that investors were not interested in the project due to low interest.

FWD and its advisors have been urged by FWD to reconsider returning to Hong Kong to make its market debut due to the delayed approval, according to two sources.

FWD faced questions by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding its China-related ties and was treated as a Chinese company rather than an entity in Hong Kong, stated one of the sources and the third.

These three sources cannot be identified because the information hasn’t been publicly made.

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