ping an.jpgWho said private equity was dead? Ping An Ping An Insurance, China's second largest insurer , plans to launch a PE arm this year.

Ping An Capital, initially capitalised at 20bn yuan will aim to raise more than 5bn yuan in its first private equity fund to invest in unlisted companies, corporate bonds, infrastructure projects such as bridges and ports, and real estate projects, according to China Daily.

Private equity is still a relatively novel means of financing in China but the government has has been encouraging PE investment as an additional source of corporate funding, as banks become cautious in lending to the private sector. In addition, the tumbling stock markets have dampened investors enthusiasm for IPOs.

Ping An Insurance had its own high-profile IPO in 2007 and was recently rumoured to be interested in acquiring Prudential, a leading UK insurance company. Like a lot of western insurers, Prudential has seen its shares to bargain-basement prices in the past year's turmoil.

Ping An already has a small stake in Belgo-Dutch bank Fortis and has HSBC as a minority investor.

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