Ping An Insurance has acquired a 5% stake in HSBC Holdings, becoming the second biggest shareholder of Europe's largest bank, according to a stock exchange filing by the insurer.
The statement lodged with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange indicates that Ping An’s asset management arm has bought more than 1 billion of HSBC’s Hong Kong listed shares as of 15 December through the stock connect programme that links the Hong Kong and mainland bourses.
The stake—5.01%—was worth HK$77.5 billion (US$9.9 billion) based on HSBC’s closing price on Wednesday. That puts Ping An second only to BlackRock, which has a 6.99% stake in HSBC.
Ping An said the stake purchase represents a financial investment based on the bank’s strong performance and sound dividend payments. It complies with the assets and liabilities matching principles of insurance fund investment, the statement said.
Ping An is China’s biggest insurer by market capitalisation. The company has become a financial conglomerate with business covering insurance, banking, investment and asset management.
HSBC's Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver told reporters that Ping An's investment is a financial move and not a strategic one, according to a report in Market Watch, which is published by Dow Jones & Co.
Mr Gulliver said the bank welcomed the investment and had been having regular conversations with Ping An, which began building its stake in the second quarter of last year.