WeBank, the online finance operation that is owned and operated by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, will seek to raise as much as $1 billion in an effort to boost its lending business and also its ancillary financial services, Reuters reported on Wednesday (Nov. 18). The newswire cited an unnamed person “familiar with the matter” as the source of the information.
[bctt tweet=”WeBank is seeking to raise about $1 billion in a move to expand its financial offerings.”]
WeBank is a relative newcomer on the lending scene, as it began operations at the beginning of 2015, and plans are taking shape for discussions to begin with a range of investors, most of them within private equity firms, across the next several months. Reuters said that both WeBank and its parent company declined to speculate or offer comment on the fundraising.
If past is prologue, Tencent and its eCommerce peer and rival, Alibaba, have placed the bulk of their lending activities with retail clients, bringing them toward online banking. Yet, as Reuters noted, thus far those two companies have been unable to provide at least some financial services that are regulated to the point where they have to actually be done in person, at a physical location. The Internet banking field, in the meantime, is slated to become a bit more crowded, as Baidu, the Chinese Internet search provider, said this week that it, too, would look to enter the financial industry, with a direct bank to be established in the country though a partnership struck with China CITIC Bank Corp. Ltd., Reuters said.
Earlier this month, Tencent said it would invest as much as $1 billion in China’s largest on-demand services provider, Meituan, which was formed through the merger of two separate companies that were fending off competition in the online app industry, where those apps are used to connect users with physical stores.