Tencent's online-banking affiliate, WeBank is seeking to raise around $1b to increase its financial-services offerings (loans and investment products). This would be WeBank's second financing since begining operations in January. The current financing could value the bank at $5b.
WeBank, which is 30% owned by Tencent, is in discussions with outside investors for a fundraising round that could value it around $5 billion, the people said. WeBank’s first fundraising round since it began operations in January would allow the online bank to expand its offering of small loans and investment products, according to the people. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is working with WeBank on the fundraising plan, they said. Online banking is the new front in the battle among Chinese Internet companies. Tencent’s WeBank and MYbank, affiliated with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., are competing to offer small loans and investment products through their online platforms. Regulators currently limit the range of services these online banks can offer, effectively making them middlemen connecting traditional bank offerings with mobile customers.