By Julie Zhu and Elzio Barreto
HONG KONG (Reuters) - ZhongAn Online Property and Casualty Insurance Co Ltd, China's first internet-only insurer, secured Hong Kong stock exchange approval for its planned initial public offering which could raise more than $1 billion, sources with direct knowledge of the deal said on Friday.
The company plans to start gauging investor appetite for the IPO as soon as Monday after receiving the nod from the listing committee of the Hong Kong stock exchange, added the sources. It plans to launch the IPO and take orders from investors on Sept. 18.
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The sources could not be named because details of the deal are not public. ZhongAn did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment on its IPO plans.
The IPO would be the biggest by a financial technology company (fintech) in the city, which wants to lure more new listings of so-called new economy startups. Hong Kong has had $5.73 billion worth of new listings so far in 2017, compared with $21.3 billion in all of 2016, Thomson Reuters data showed.
ZhongAn is among several Chinese fintech companies tapping investors to fund expansion as consumers move more of their banking, payments, investing and insurance online.
Last year, Ant Financial, the world's most-valuable fintech company, raised $4.5 billion, one of the biggest funding rounds for a private internet company, while peer-to-peer lending and wealth management platform Lufax raised $1.2 billion and JD Finance, the finance subsidiary of online direct sales firm JD.com <JD.O>, raised $1 billion.
Zhong An was founded in November 2013 by Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Tencent Chairman Pony Ma and Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd <2318.HK> Chairman Ma Mingzhe.
Its major shareholders include two of China's largest internet companies - Alibaba Group's <BABA.N> Ant Financial affiliate with 16 percent, and Tencent Holdings Ltd <0700.HK> with 12.1 percent. Ping An also holds 12.1 percent, according to ZhongAn's IPO prospectus.
(Reporting by Julie Zhu and Elzio Barreto; Editing by Stephen Coates)