(Reuters) – Hong Kong-based insurer FWD Group has told US regulators they can not guarantee that Beijing will not try to "intervene or influence" its operations, adding to its list of risk factors when trying to move forward with a New York listing.
The group, controlled by billionaire Richard Li, applied in June for a listing in the United States with, what people familiar with the matter said at the time, a goal to raise between $ 2 and $ 3 billion.
With that size, the deal would value FWD, which operates in 10 markets in Asia, at between $ 13 billion and $ 15 billion. The transaction has not yet been approved by US regulators.
The FWD has been scrutinized by the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a China-based company despite being Hong Kong-based, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The insurer has no operations in China yet.
Regulatory inquiries have led to a longer-than-expected approval process, which would likely delay the deal planned for 2021
In amended prospectuses submitted to the SEC this week, the FWD has expanded its section on risk factors to highlight that it could not exclude Chinese government intervention that could have a material impact on its operations.  "We are a Hong Kong -based company with no significant operations in mainland China. However, we can not guarantee that the Chinese government will not try to intervene or influence our operations at any time, "it said in Tuesday's report. It stated that customer data was not available for its mainland operations.
The FWD declined to comment on the SEC process and on the changes. The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside normal business hours.
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