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China's Fosun plans to list U.S. insurer Ironshore 'as soon as possible'


(Reuters) — Fosun Group, China's biggest private conglomerate, will list U.S. property/casualty insurer Ironshore Inc. "as soon as possible" this year, Guo Guangchang, the company's billionaire co-founder and chairman, told Reuters ahead of a Reuters Newsmaker event in Beijing on Tuesday.

Mr. Guo, a self-styled student of U.S. investor Warren Buffett, said the size of the offering will be decided by the market, "the bigger the better."

Fosun International Ltd. said last week it would spin off Ironshore, which it spent $2.3 billion over two years to acquire, through a separate listing on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq market.

Ironshore on Tuesday said A.M. Best Co. Inc. has removed the company from “under review with negative implications” and affirmed the financial strength ratings of A (Excellent) for Ironshore and its subsidiaries.

In the interview with Reuters, Mr. Guo also said Fosun will focus on its tourism business this year. There is no timetable for this part to list yet. He also said Fosun's interest in investing in the U.K. and Europe has increased in the wake of Britain's referendum on exiting the European Union.

The 49-year-old business leader has driven Fosun's debt-funded global acquisition push. In two decades, Fosun has spent more than $30 billion buying insurance companies, property and tourism-related assets overseas, mainly in Europe and the United States.

Mr. Guo was born in a poor, rural village in the eastern province of Zhejiang and studied philosophy at Shanghai's elite Fudan University before founding an information service company with some classmates and around $15,0000 in capital in 1992.

Fosun first partnered with state-owned enterprises and invested in industrial assets before turning its attention to insurance and consumer businesses.

Mr. Guo was ranked 19th on Forbes' China Rich List this year, with a net worth of $5.3 billion.

One of China's most powerful business leaders, Mr. Guo serves as a delegate to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a parliamentary advisory body. He is a former delegate to the National People's Congress, China's parliament.