Autohome issues first custom financing products

10 Oct 2017

Autohome (汽车之家, NYSE: ATHM), one of China’s leading auto listings sites, announced it will be partnering with Ping An Puhui (平安普惠, otherwise known as Finup Credit) to offer three new bespoke financing products.

One of the products will target the short-term liquidity needs of auto dealers, while the other two (one a form of financial leasing based on its description) will be designed around the needs of (particularly younger) consumers.

The products are the first of their kind to be issued to Autohome, which has long been expected to be making a serious foray into the lucrative financing market in China.

Autohome’s majority shareholder Ping An Insurance Group, which acquired its stake from Telstra in mid-2016, is one of China’s leading financial services providers. Ping An has been “ambitious broadening [its] supermarket of financial products” recently, and almost ten percent of its revenue comes from online financing. (Institutional Investor).

This effort to broaden into fintech has been led by Ping An Puhui, which offers unsecured microfinance loans. Ping An Puhui reportedly is aiming to grow its business eightfold over the next four years (up to a possible trillion RMB in loans by 2020) and China’s massive auto-financing market will likely play a central role. (South China Morning Post). Autohome is reportedly already the fastest growing channel for Ping An Puhui’s loans.

With rival Bitauto (易车, NYSE: BITA) making huge inroads with lending-based company Yixin Group (易鑫集团), Autohome’s comparative quietness has been deafening. While the three new products are a start, expect Ping An and Autohome to be working on a platform that will be able to match Yixin Group’s own potent mixture of financing, financial leasing and transactions. 

The announcement breaks a string of bad press for Autohome dating to last week, when the company’s president and the chief financial officer both stepped down citing “personal reasons.” Autohome’s stock price dipped almost seven percent following the announcement.  

Furthermore, last week we reported that Autohome’s latest celebrity content-producer, the auto reviewer Yan Chuang 闫闯, had been arrested after the death of a member of his crew. Yan Chuang’s wife has since confirmed that he is still being held by the police in relation to the incident. 

Alongside financing, Autohome has been making a second push to become the market leader in auto information and content, particularly via its Chejiahao (车家号) platform.

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Tom Marling

Tom is a PhD candidate in Chinese History at Hong Kong Baptist University, and former PR consultant in Mainland China. He joined the AIM Group in 2016 as a writer/analyst.