UK-based Apis Partners to deploy more capital into South and Southeast Asia

Apis Partners operating partner Nigel Lee (left) and partner Nick Talwar.

UK-based private equity firm Apis Partners is looking to allocate up to 60 per cent of its capital into South and Southeast-Asian financial services companies, said top executives of the firm.

“[Up to] 60 per cent of our capital will most probably go into South and Southeast Asia, with 40 per cent focused on the African continent to get a better balance,” said Apis’ Singapore-based operating partner Nigel Lee.

The firm’s partner, Nick Talwar said Apis has made nine investments out of its inaugural fund, Apis Growth Fund I. However, Talwar and Lee declined to comment on the fundraising status of Fund II.

Last June, DEALSTREETASIA had reported that the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) had proposed to invest $25 million into Apis Growth Fund II. In a disclosure, IFC stated Apis is targeting to raise $400 million for Fund II, with a $500 million hard cap. In September, global impact investment firm PG Impact Investments said it has also invested an undisclosed sum into Fund II.

Apis Partners’ inaugural fund held its final close in March 2017 with a hard cap of $287 million, exceeding its initial target of $250 million. Investors of the fund include development and global financial institutions as well as fund of funds investors from Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East.

According to Lee, the reason the firm’s first fund has been invested mostly out of Southeast Asia was largely because the managing partners “have a lot of experience in markets like India in particular, Middle East and Africa”.

“As they pulled the [first] fund together, the deal flow that came to that fund from day one was enormous. It just immediately proved that there is this space in the market and that a specialist fund is actually required. So the trouble is that, we’ve been so busy and haven’t really been able to focus on Southeast Asia, quite frankly. Hence, the first fund was mostly deployed in Africa and South Asia,” he told DEALSTREETASIA.

Talwar added that “vast majority” of the first fund, Apis Growth Fund I, has been deployed, and they still have “a little bit of room left for a small investment”.

The PE firm made its first investment into Southeast Asia last July when it invested $21.2 million in Bursa Malaysia-listed payments system provider GHL Systems Bhd. The Malaysian company is also backed by another private equity firm, Actis, which took over from regional PE firm Creador. In India, Apis led a $60-million round in renewable energy firm Greenlight Planet Inc in December 2017.

Edited excerpts of an interview with Apis Partners’ partner Nick Talwar and operating partner Nigel Lee:-

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