Tencent-backed Waterdrop slumps in NYSE debut
China's Tencent-backed Waterdrop tumbled by 14.5 percent in its New York debut, May 7, 2021. /Reuters

China's Tencent-backed Waterdrop tumbled by 14.5 percent in its New York debut, May 7, 2021. /Reuters

Shares of China's Tencent-backed online insurance technology firm Waterdrop tumbled by 14.5 percent in their New York debut on Friday. 

American depositary shares of the company opened at $10.25, before recovering to $11.50. The shares were priced at $12 apiece in the initial public offering (IPO), raising $360 million through the stock sale. 

Shen Peng, Waterdrop's founder and chief executive, said the company would focus more on user growth than on profit in the short term in an interview with Reuters earlier in the day. 

The company aims to be China's version of UnitedHealth Group, which is the biggest U.S. health insurer, in a decade and has no plan to revive its once-popular mutual aid service, Shen said. 

The loss-making company will focus until 2025 on growing its online insurance business in China, and would like to expand further into healthcare businesses in 10 years' time in the country, Shen said.  

"Currently becoming profitable is not our priority," said Shen, adding that growth and serving more users was more important in the short term. 

Last month, Chinese financial regulators said that they would step up efforts to regulate fintech companies that have offshore public listing plans. 

Shen said that the company started to proactively communicate with regulators when it first had the IPO idea and kept talking with regulators at every step of the IPO process. 

"Regulators have expressed that they are delighted to see innovative companies obtain public listings as long as the companies' operations comply with regulations," Shen said. 

Founded in 2016 by Shen, Waterdrop was valued at about $2 billion in a pre-IPO funding round last August. It also counts reinsurer Swiss Re, Boyu Capital, and Meituan as investors. 

Beijing-based Waterdrop's remaining core businesses include distributing insurance policies online and providing illness crowd-funding. 

The company said in its filing that its revenue hit 3 billion yuan ($464.43 million), an increase of over 100 percent year on year. 

Source(s): Reuters

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