Ping An embarks on joint drug ventures with Shionogi & Co.

July 27, 2020.

China’s largest insurer is harnessing its expertise in artificial intelligence to expand health care services in Shanghai and Hong Kong through new joint ventures with a research-driven Japanese pharmaceutical company.

Ping An Insurance Group said Monday that it will work with a subsidiary of pharmaceutical company Shionogi & Co., Ltd. to build platforms and systems for drug discovery and development, manufacturing and quality control and sales and distribution.

“We believe this alliance represents a very significant step toward our goal of creating new platforms to shape the future of health care,” said John Keller, Ping An senior vice president, global business division.

The agreement with Shionogi (Hong Kong) Company Ltd. to launch Ping An-Shionogi Co., Ltd. in Shanghai and Ping An-Shionogi (Hong Kong) Limited “will enhance the level of health and medical care service in China, in line with Ping An’s health care ecosystem strategy,” the insurer said.

The Shanghai-registered venture is an RMB 2.94 billion ($420 million) investment, of which Ping An’s life insurance subsidiary plans to invest RMB 1.44 billion ($205.8 million) for 49% equity in the venture.

The venture registered in Hong Kong is a total investment of HKD 360 million ($46.4 million). Ping An’s indirect subsidiary Tatum Japan Healthcare Limited will invest HKD 176 million ($22.7 million), to again end up with just under half of the equity in the company.

The deal will establish development centers for drugs that Shionogi is developing globally, with a focus on infectious disease and central nervous system disorders.

“Shionogi has amassed a wealth of knowledge about disease and strong drug-discovery capabilities,” Ping An said. “Combining these competencies with Ping An's big data and artificial intelligence (AI) analytical technology, the joint ventures will establish a research and development platform to efficiently create high-value-added, innovative medicines and healthcare services and deliver customized solutions for customers.”

Ping An will also contribute its AI know-how to monitor the manufacturing and analysis of drugs in real time, and to create “an innovative pharmaceutical manufacturing and quality control system that offers high quality and low costs.”

Finally, the ventures will use Ping An’s Good Doctor, China’s largest mobile medical application by number of users, and its AI-powered Health Cloud to supply drugs to customers and cover end-to-end services such as referrals and 24-hour online consultation.

“By fusing Ping An's strengths with Shionogi's strengths as a drug discovery-oriented pharmaceutical company in this joint venture, we will work together to provide total healthcare solutions for the benefit of patients, families, health care professionals and society as early as possible,” Keller said.

Shenzhen-headquartered Ping An is the 10th-largest insurer in the world, according to AM Best.