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China's Lufax seeks U.S. IPO as early as this year - sources

HONG KONG/NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - Lufax, one of China’s largest online wealth management platforms backed by financial giant Ping An Insurance Group , is seeking a U.S. initial public offering as early as this year, people with direct knowledge told Reuters.

The Shanghai-based company has enlisted Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan and UBS to work on the offering, according to three of the people, who declined to be named due to confidentiality constraints. The banks declined to comment.

Lufax is currently preparing the confidential filing for the IPO, two of them said. It has not decided how much to raise in the offering or the valuation, the people added.

The company was valued at $38 billion before its latest fundraising in 2018, Reuters reported at the time.

The company declined to comment.

Chinese companies have raised $47.5 billion from initial and secondary public offerings this year, nearly half of the global volume, Refinitiv data showed. Only 6% of the total 237 offerings made so far this year have been in U.S. markets due to tightened regulatory scrutiny amid China-U.S. tensions.

Some Chinese fintech companies nevertheless have found it easier to list in the United States than in Hong Kong where they have to satisfy the bourse’s Listing Committee of their suitability, a step not required in the United States.

The committee has previously rejected companies whose business models it had doubts over. Cryptocurrency miner makers for example Canaan and Ebang went on to list in the U.S after being denied by Hong Kong.

Lufax will be following OneConnect Financial Technology , another fintech company backed by Ping An, which raised $312 million in December and has seen its shares more than double since.

Set up in 2011 as a P2P platform by Ping An, Lufax has however been exiting the once core business as China cracked down on the sector to contain financial risks.

The startup postponed a Hong Kong float slated for the first half of 2018 amid uncertainty over China’s consumer lending regulation, sources have said.

Later that year, it raised $1.33 billion here at a lowered valuation from a dozen investors. (Reporting by Kane Wu and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Echo Wang in New York; additional reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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