China's first online insurance company is expected to be approved soon by mainland regulators, marking a breakthrough for the domestic insurance industry, Shanghai Securities News reported yesterday.
Zhongan - set up by Alibaba boss Jack Ma Yun, Ping An (2318) chairman Ma Mingzhe and Tencent (0700) founder Ma Huateng - will become the first property insurance firm to sell all its products and provide claim services via an online platform rather than through a conventional retail network.
The firm will focus on liability insurance and credit and guarantee insurance - two niche markets - and avoid the fierce competition of the motor insurance markets.
Alibaba, which owns 19.9percent of Zhongan, is the single biggest shareholder, while Ping An and Tencent each hold a 5percent stake.
However, the three will not chair the firm, instead recommending Ou Yaping - currently chairman of Sinolink Worldwide Holdings (1168) - to take the helm.
Ou, who is in his 50s, has been on the Hurun Rich List in the mainland for many years. He is an active investor in various industries.
Yi Hai, a professional manager from Huatai Insurance Group, is expected to be the managing director. Both positions are subject to approval from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.
Zhongan also has six other minor shareholders who are either mainland internet, tech or investment firms. GRACE CAO