August 18, 2017 / 2:26 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Jack Ma-backed Yunfeng leads $1.7 bln purchase of MassMutual Asia unit

* Yunfeng to own 60 pct of MassMutual's Asia unit

* Other investors include Ant, GIC-affiliate City-Scape (Recasts with details of the deal, Yunfeng share price surge)

HONG KONG, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Yunfeng Financial Group , backed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, said it would be the main investor in a $1.7 billion acquisition of U.S.-based insurer MassMutual International's Asia unit - a deal that sent Yunfeng's shares surging more than 20 percent.

Yunfeng will own 60 percent of MassMutual Asia, while investors including Alibaba Group affiliate Ant Financial Services and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC-managed City-Scape Pte will own the rest.

"This transaction is a milestone step of Yunfeng FG becoming a financial conglomerate, integrating its existing fintech focused financial services with traditional insurance business," said Yu Feng, chairman of Yunfeng.

Yunfeng will pay MassMutual $1 billion in cash and 800 million shares valued at HK$6.50 apiece, the companies said in a statement late on Thursday.

Yunfeng's shares were 22 percent higher at HK$7.73 in early trade after soaring as much as 30 percent.

MassMutual Asia has two main units - one manages general insurance business, while the other focuses on the Mandatory Provident Fund business, a compulsory pension plan for the retirement of residents in Hong Kong.

Reorient Financial Markets, a wholly-owned unit of Yunfeng and JPMorgan acted as Yunfeng's financial advisors on the deal, while Citigroup advised MassMutual International, the statement said.

$1 = 7.8232 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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