Telstra Ventures, the investment arm of Australia’s biggest telecom company, is investing in Monk’s Hill Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital fund, the vehicle’s managing director Kuo-Yi Lim told DEALSTREETASIA.
Monk’s Hill has been on the road since 2013 to raise its first vehicle, a $80 to $100 million fund, which is yet to hit the final close.
Kuo-Yi Lim said, the VC firm was in the process of closing this fund, but did not elaborate on the final corpus, or the time frame for the close.
He further added that the Telstra investment into the firm had happened earlier, but was being disclosed only now.
Last year, DEALSTREETASIA exclusively reported that Monk’s Hill had roped in Cisco and Singapore state fund Temasek Holdings as LPs (limited partners) for its $80-million fund.
The VC firm later confirmed the development, and announced it had bagged a $10-million investment from Cisco Investments, that has an active portfolio of $2 billion with nearly 100 direct investments around the world, and also holds LP positions in over 35 funds globally.
Prior to that, Monk’s Hill Ventures had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from YJ Capital, the corporate venture arm of Yahoo Japan, the $24 billion-valued JV between Yahoo and Softbank
Monk’s Hill, launched in 2013 by principals Peng T. Ong — co-founder of Match.com and founder of NASDAQ-listed Interwoven — and Kuo-Yi Lim, the former chief executive of Infocomm Investments, mostly provides Series A and B level funding to high-growth technology companies operating in fast growing Asian markets.
It has two primary focus areas – first, early stage, Series A and B, technology start-ups operating across Southeast Asia and second, global technology companies seeking to expand into Southeast Asia.
Telstra’s $10-million investment in Monk’s Hill is hedged by parent company Telstra Corp against risk from falling profits in traditional products such as phone calls and broadband services. However, the new bets are risky as well, and might not result in desired returns.
Matthew Koertge, managing director, Telstra Ventures, said in an interview to Australian media that using regional specialists like Hill would provide access to opportunities in new markets of Asia that he is not familiar with.
Telstra chief executive officer Andy Penn has previously described Asia as a key part of his growth strategy. The market leader reported a drop in mobile subscriber growth in February.
Telstra Ventures is open to further investment in external funds that help it with investments in markets where it lacks expertise. It already has offices in the US, in addition to its home market of Australia, but the company is unlikely to make investments in external funds in these markets, preferring to make more investments in funds that are familiar with southeast Asia.