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Ping An has emerged as the second-biggest shareholder in HSBC after the Chinese insurer increased its stake in Europe’s largest bank above 5 per cent, triggering a disclosure.

According to a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Ping An’s asset management arm acquired 10m HSBC shares on Tuesday, taking the group’s total holding in the bank from 4.96 per cent to 5.01 per cent.

The investment by Ping An, the world’s largest insurer by market capitalisation and fourth-largest by total assets, is worth about £7.3bn ($9.8bn) at current market prices.

It comes just weeks after HSBC announced plans for John Flint, its head of retail banking and wealth management, to succeed Stuart Gulliver as chief executive early next year.

The CEO succession process was the first big decision by Mark Tucker, who took over as chairman of HSBC in October having spent more than eight years running AIA, one of the main rivals to Ping An in the Asian insurance market.

Ping An said the stake was “a financial investment” acquired by its asset management division, which holds the assets of its life insurance clients.

“HSBC’s business performance is excellent and its dividends are good,” the Chinese insurer said in a statement. “This complements the assets and liabilities matching principles of Ping An Asset Management’s insurance funds.”

HSBC, which earns three-quarters of its profits in Asia and was founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai more than 150 years ago, said: “Ping An is a non-state owned public company with excellent corporate governance and stable operations.”

The largest shareholder in HSBC is BlackRock, which owns almost 6.8 per cent of the bank across various funds that it manages, according to Bloomberg data. The bank’s third-largest investor is JPMorgan Chase, which owns just over 4.8 per cent.

Shares in HSBC have risen 11 per cent in the past year, helped by the bank’s strong profit growth in the first nine months of this year and its decision to return billions of dollars of excess capital to investors via share buybacks.

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