The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Jonathan Larsen, Ping An
Jonathan Larsen is chief innovation officer of China-based insurer Ping An Group and chairman and CEO of its corporate venturing Ping An Global Voyager Fund.
Ping An Capital’s Global Voyager Fund was launched in May 2017 when Larsen joined with a $1bn commitment to invest in healthcare and financial technology developers internationally and mainly based outside of China.
Larsen said at the WSJ D.Live Asia 2017 conference in Hong Kong in the summer the unit would seek out companies its parent company “can learn from”.
In an 11FS interview, Larsen added: “In many ways, the primary rationale for the fund is strategic, and I think there are three forms that that can take.
“One is us accessing ideas, technologies, business models, and that can be through licensing agreements, it can be through cooperation agreements, it can be through partnerships or joint ventures in China.
“Equally, we have very significant development capabilities ourselves. We have 20,000 developers, we have world class facial recognition technology, we have world class voice technology, we have platforms that run on blockchain, at scale, every day already, so we have got a lot of technology resources, and we can co-create, in specific situations, with partners, where that’s warranted. So, we are very interested and keen to see whether that’s something we can bring to bear as a capability. I think that could yield some extremely interesting partnership opportunities and results.
“Lastly, I think the group, while it is overwhelmingly a China-based enterprise, it has some global portfolio management activities, and has historically had venture capital activates on a global basis. But overwhelmingly its client franchise is in China.
“We are now at a point where we can be looking, in a very disciplined and thoughtful way, about international opportunities, and some of those opportunities might come through partnerships in the fund.”
Ping An has 138 million customers, 1.2 million agents, 6,000 branches and extensive digital distribution assets in mainland China.
Ping An is providing all of its capital, and Larsen, who was earlier on the GCV rising Stars 2018 awards, said the firm’s eventual aim is to become a “data business,” with Voyager Fund part of several open innovation ventures.
The ventures in question include an established CVC fund called Ping An Ventures and high-profile investments in domestic companies such as Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing service then known as Didi Kuaidi, e-commerce platform Mogujie and livestreaming platform Huya.
As the world’s third-largest insurer with more than $100bn in annual revenues, Ping An said it had already built digital service ecosystems in four areas: financial service, real estate finance, healthcare and automobile sales and servicing. Lufax and Ping An Good Doctor are fin-tech and health-tech innovators with $18.5bn and $3bn valuations, respectively, as at the end of 2016.
From his 11FS interview, Larsen said: “On the healthtech side, you know, health is a really interesting space for us. There is a thesis where it is arguable that health is actually an even bigger opportunity, over the longer term, than financial services, in China.
“What we are interested in, in health, is really information-based businesses. Our interest in the health space arose out of our own health insurance business. Private health insurance is only 5% of the market today, for health spending, 50% is government, the rest is out of pocket. We have a very large position within that 5%. There’s basically no scenario we can see where that cannot grow at above 30%, almost forever, just given where we are right now.”
The Voyager fund’s deals since then have included investing in Singapore-based corporate healthcare services provider Fullerton Healthcare’s $121m round.
Fullerton will also benefit from resources made available through various Ping An businesses, including clinic provider Ping An Wanjia Healthcare and Ping An Good Doctor, an online healthcare platform itself preparing a $1bn initial public offering, to help the portfolio company expand into China.
Earlier, in September, the Voyager had made its first deal when financial services portal developer 10x Future Technologies raised $46m and said it might partner Ping An to enter the Asian market.
Founded by former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins, 10x launched in October 2016 targeting back-office technology used by banks and its A round shareholders included strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman.
At the time of the deal, Larsen said: said: “10x Future Technologies and Ping An share a vision that technology is the key driver in the financial sector to offer customers drastically improved services at a drastically lower cost of delivery.
“10x represents a breakthrough in banking technology and is a wake-up call to banks everywhere. We are looking forward to working with 10x Future Technologies to bring the company›s capabilities to Asia, given the vast local demand for innovative technologies that will transform the finance industry.”
To help its transformation of financial services, Larsen in October hired his former Citigroup’s Asia head of insurance investment banking Donald Lacey as Voyager’s chief operating officer.
Before joining Ping An, Larsen spent 18 years at Citigroup where he was most recently the Hong Kong-based, global head of the firm’s retail banking and mortgages businesses, that had about $12bn in revenues and spanning 19 countries.
He has been at the leading edge of the financial services industry for the last 29 years across the Asia Pacific region and globally.
Prior to Citi, Larsen was a principal in the financial services practice of global management consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton where he spent eight years advising large banks and other financial institutions across Asia, Australia and New Zealand and in the US and Europe.
He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Banking and Finance, Singapore, and was named Retail Banker of the Year in 2011 by Asian Banker magazine, after gaining a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from University of Melbourne.