At our Asia PE-VC Summit this year, we bring you a curated selection of 19 fireside sessions with the region’s top founders and investors who will share their perspectives and outlook on the Asia growth story.
Our speakers represent the region’s unicorns, top private equity and venture capital industry leaders including Grab, GoTo, Bukalapak, Partners Group, Blume Ventures, Navis Capital, True North, to name a few.
Through these fireside sessions, we hope to cover a diverse range of topics such as the post-COVID landscape and the new fundraising order in Asia; identifying the next wave of digital economy winners; the art and science of PE investing in crisis times; the next big opportunities in healthcare, among others.
Hear from Southeast Asia, Greater China and India’s most influential entrepreneurs and investors at the Asia PE-VC Summit 2021, as our fireside chats shine a light on the region’s most important themes and trends.
1. Applying global lessons to Asian tech investments
Cyrus Driver, Managing Director, Partners Group
Asia is seeing intense competition for technology assets, and global private equity major Partners Group is the latest to join this crowded space. Can the Swiss alternative assets manager, which plans to allocate 15-20% of its global tech investments to opportunities in Asia to start with, stand out?
Driver, now managing director of Partners’ Private Equity Technology business unit, will dwell on the firm’s efforts at making pure technology investments as part of its strategy after the global pandemic has thrown up a plethora of opportunities with enormous growth potential.
While Partners Group has invested in software services providers in the US and Europe, its exposure to similar opportunities in Asia remains limited. Can the firm bring its learnings from non-tech businesses that it typically invests into sectors such as SaaS, software and other segments within the internet ecosystem? Partners Group has recently reorganised its business units based on sectors as opposed to geography previously.
2. The post-Covid exit landscape and new fundraising order in SE Asia
Nicholas Bloy, co-managing partner, Navis Capital Partners
Private equity deal-making in SE Asia appears to be bouncing back in 2021 compared with last year’s lacklustre exit record as well fewer buyout transactions. The region is also seeing an increase in the number of global PE majors looking at SE Asia even as limited partners are setting up regional offices to boost their direct investments.
How are LPs and GPs approaching digital fundraising and virtual underwriting? Will the increased dry powder lead to record deals in the rest of 2021 and next year? What will the new normal be for SE Asia and which markets and sectors will see heightened activity? Will remote work allow SEA-focused PE firms to have boots on the ground in more countries here, enabling greater access to deal flow?
Bloy, who is responsible for fundraising at Navis, will share his perspectives on the overall PE investment landscape in the current context. Malaysia-headquartered Navis Capital manages approximately $5 billion in public and private equity capital and focuses on investments primarily in and around Asia.
Navis recently announced the final close of two of its funds – Navis Asia Fund VIII and Navis Asia Green Loop Fund – at $900 million and $450 million, respectively. Navis Capital has also been actively exploring exits from its investments and has also sealed several divestments in recent months.
3. The road to taking Indonesia’s first tech unicorn to a successful listing and the way ahead
Rachmat Kaimuddin, CEO, Bukalapak
Online marketplace Bulakapak became Indonesia’s first tech unicorn of this generation to successfully list on the Indonesia Stock Exchange after raising $1.52 billion in its initial public offering, five times more than the original target of $300 million. After the IPO, Bukalapak’s top three backers include Emtek subsidiary PT Kreatif Media Karya, Ant Group’s API Investment Ltd, and GIC – who together own 46% of the company.
Bukalapak’s listing is significant as it not only tested the depth of the local bourse but also set the stage for other tech unicorn listings in the SE Asian region. GoTo, the entity formed after the merger of Tokopedia and ride-hailing and deliveries giant Gojek earlier this year, is also eyeing a listing by the end of this year in Indonesia before it lists in the US. Singapore-based Grab is set to list on the NASDAQ by the fourth quarter of this year.
The path to IPO was actually laid nearly two years back in December 2019 when Bukalapak appointed ex-banker Muhammad Rachmat Kaimuddin as the CEO. Kaimuddin had the challenging task of keeping his eyes trained sharply on costs, efficiencies and business sustainability.
Many industry observers had marked that the move was aligned to help the company maintain growth and meet investor expectations in a highly competitive market.
Kaimuddin was a director of finance and planning at local lender Bank Bukopin prior to joining Bukalapak. He has served stints at Quvat Management, Baring Private Equity, Bosowa Corporindo, and Semen Bosowa.
After steering Bukalapak to a blockbuster IPO, what are the next targets for Kaimuddin? We will ask the seasoned finance veteran about the most remarkable milestone in Indonesian public markets and what it means for the exit landscape for the tech startup ecosystem.
4. Strong capital structures, liquidity and credit access key to navigate the crisis
Atul Kapur, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer, Everstone Group
Having seen the rise of private equity in India over the last decade, Atul Kapur will take us through the onward journey of this asset class in the post-pandemic world. How will Everstone – best known for its platform approach, value-add strategy and buyouts approach – navigate its operations across PE, VC, real estate and infrastructure following the changes brought about by the pandemic?
This chat will also seek to explore the underlying strong fundamentals that led to a 38% rise in PE investments in India to a record $62.2 billion in the Covid year of 2020 even though the exit record continued to be lacklustre.
The Everstone co-founder will also share insights on how locally-grown PE firms can compete and differentiate themselves from the new class of investors like pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, specialised secondary funds, global buyout funds and strategics.
The Singapore-based PE firm is seeking to raise as much as $950 million for its fourth fund that will back companies in India and Southeast Asia. Everstone manages more than $5 billion across private equity, real estate, green infrastructure and venture capital funds. Everstone has also launched a dedicated credit fund.
5. Private equity and the next generation of consumers
Chinta Bhagat, Managing Partner, Asia, L Catterton
Even before the pandemic, the consumer sector was undergoing key shifts driven by changes in demographics and the digitalisation of business models. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing restrictions have accelerated existing trends, and pushed businesses to take stock, and rethink operating models and value propositions.
What matters most to the consumers of tomorrow? How are private equity firms approaching the evolving market landscape? Where are the opportunities that private capital can tap into?
As an experienced investor in the consumer sector, with more than three decades of experience in building enduring brands, L Catterton is at the heart of these questions. The firm has $28 billion in equity capital under management and investment professionals globally. Bhagat, who leads the team in Asia out of Singapore, will share his perspectives on creating value amid the changing consumer landscape.
6. Moving beyond payments to grow as a formidable fintech business in SE Asia
Rueben Lai, senior managing director, Grab Financial Group
Grab, one of Southeast Asia’s most valuable startups, started as a ride-hailing business in 2012 and gradually diversified into food and deliveries and fintech offering myriad services under the super app umbrella, tapping an addressable market of 650-million plus people in the region. In a milestone deal earlier this year, Grab announced a $40 billion deal with special purpose acquisition vehicle Altimeter Growth Corp and is working to list on the Nasdaq in the fourth quarter.
Per its recent Q1 numbers, Grab has benefited from a surge in the food and delivery business as well as digital payments while its mainstay mobility vertical has been reeling from the pandemic-induced movement curbs in its core markets. Grab’s financial services segment recorded its highest quarterly total payment volume (TPV) so far in Q1 2021 with year-on-year growth of 17%. Grab projects that the total TPV of its financial services division will touch $11 billion in 2021, clocking a growth of 23.6% YoY. Furthermore, Grab posted strong growth in lending and insurance segments in Q1.
Grab has plans to move beyond payments as it bulks up its financial services layer. It has tied up with SingTel to set up a digital bank in Singapore that is likely to commence operations next year. In Indonesia, however, Grab’s financial services business will see an impact following the merger between tech giants Gojek and Tokopedia, which is a co-investor in e-wallet OVO along with Grab.
How does Grab see its fintech play evolving beyond the payments business? Will we see Grab getting into acquisition mode to bulk up its activities within the segment? How do we see OVO ownership changing following the GoTo merger in Indonesia? How will Grab leverage the partnership with Indonesian conglomerate Emtek Group to deepen its presence in SE Asia’s largest market? What are the group’s plans for other SE Asian markets? When will the financial services business likely become EBITDA positive?
Grab Financial Group senior managing director Reuben Lai will throw light on these questions and more about the road ahead for the company’s fintech ambitions. At Grab, Reuben has launched multiple successful businesses, including a car leasing platform, Grab for Business, and Grab Ventures. He was also the Chief of Staff to Grab’s CEO. Before joining Grab, Reuben was a co-founder and CEO of a telemedicine startup.
Join this conversation on how Grab is looking to build a fintech business beyond payments.
7. Trendspotting & identifying the next big wave of digital economy winners
Patrick Walujo, Co-Founder, Managing Partner and Member of the Investment Committee, Northstar Group
An early investor in Indonesian decacorn Gojek, Northstar Group is now training sights on the second wave of digital companies that are emerging in the healthtech, edtech, agritech and SaaS sectors. Northstar’s early bet Gojek merged with local e-commerce major Tokopedia, in a landmark deal, to create one of SE Asia’s biggest tech conglomerates.
Northstar will continue to back enterprises in Indonesia and Vietnam, two of SE Asia’s most attractive markets. But, have these markets delivered so far for private equity investors? Can Southeast Asia – with its lower labour costs, higher purchasing power and smartphone adoption – become Asia’s next major digital market? Patrick Walujo will discuss the firm’s investment thesis and its focus on consumers, financial services and the digital economy, sectors that are set to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. Northstar is on track for an $800-million final close of its fifth fund by the end of the year.
8. Consolidation & turnaround trends to boost demand for alternative capital in Asia
Edwin Wong, managing partner and CEO, Ares SSG
With banks reducing their exposure, alternative assets managers are best placed to fill the financing gap across Asia. Buoyed by growing demand for alternative capital in the wake of the pandemic, special situations-focused Ares SSG is looking at investment opportunities in real estate and financial services sectors in two of Asia’s largest economies – India and China. In March 2021, the Hong Kong-based fund sealed the deal to acquire Indian debt-ridden real estate financier Altico Capital.
Ares SSG, which has more than $7 billion in AUM, makes credit, private equity, and special situations investments on behalf of its institutional clients. The firm is on track to hit the final close of its latest Asia-Pacific focussed secured lending fund at $1.5 billion. In 2019, it had closed its fifth flagship fund SSG Capital Partners V at $1.9 billion and raised an additional $825 million for a sidecar fund.
9. The “next big what” opportunities unfolding in the life sciences space
Dr Amit Varma, managing partner, Quadria Capital
Co-founder Amit Varma, a practising doctor, believes that the healthcare market in India and Southeast Asia market combined will be bigger and grow faster than US-EU put together by 2025. When it comes to the economics of healthcare, Varma believes the platform approach – combining smaller clinics and hospitals under one group – is the way forward. The session will discuss private equity’s role in bridging the gap between the challenges investors face – manpower, technology and supply chains – and patient requirements – affordability, accessibility and quality.
Quadria, the only PE firm in the healthcare space that looks at opportunities across South Asia had closed its second fund at $595 million last year, exceeding its target of $400 million. From India to Indonesia and Vietnam, the firm is scouting for new investment opportunities and targeting healthcare services; life sciences, pharma and medical devices; distribution or retail platforms; and health technology. It is also on track to close its second VC fund at $150 million soon.
10. The art and science of making PE investments during crisis times
Weijian Shan, Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PAG
Despite the regulatory crackdown on several fast-growing sectors and the continued Sino-US trade tensions, China continues to see growth in investments, private equity fundraising and expansion in deal sizes as global institutional investors bat for long-term macro factors. China is projected to contribute up to 25% of global GDP growth from now until 2024. Will LPs accordingly allocate capital to funds targeting the Middle Kingdom? Will we continue to see PE fundraising in China largely concentrated on the biggest funds? Shan will share his insights on how the PE industry views the latest developments in the technology space in China, particularly on the regulatory front, as well as his reading of the US-China relations under the Biden administration so far, in addition to other geopolitical developments.
The author of Money Games and Out of the Gobi, Shan had established PAG’s PE branch in 2010 after his previous stints leading deals at TPG and Newbridge Capital. The team has raised four vehicles to date, including PAG Growth Fund I and three buyout-focused pan-Asia funds: PAG Asia I (closed in 2012 at $2.5 billion), PAG Asia II (closed in 2016 at $3.6 billion), and PAG Asia III (closed in 2018 at $6 billion). PAG is currently in the market to raise its fifth direct lending fund for the region.
11. New digital scripts India will play to in the post-pandemic world and beyond
Haresh Chawla, Partner, True North
The pandemic has clearly altered and accelerated India’s digital transformation journey. India has already produced 16 unicorns in the first six months of 2021 compared to 10 in the whole of 2020. Haresh Chawla, rated among the country’s most influential commentators in identifying the big shifts in India’s economy, society, and its future, will explain why the country’s digital landscape will never be the same again in the post-pandemic world.
At True North, Chawla focuses on investments in the food and consumer sectors where he identifies and helps transform mid-sized businesses. True North closed its sixth fund, from which it is currently investing, in 2019, raising about $600 million. It has earmarked about $200-250 million from its sixth fund for deals in the consumer space, particularly niche brands that are riding the digitalisation wave spurred by the pandemic-induced changes in consumer behaviour.
12. The road to building a regional property marketplace leader
Hari V. Krishnan, CEO & Managing Director, PropertyGuru
From a listing collapse in 2019 to raising a big-ticket sum from its storeyed backers to acquiring Australia-listed REA Group entities in Malaysia and Thailand to the latest SPAC merger, PropertyGuru has had a milestone-filled journey in recent months.
PropertyGuru’s merger with blank cheque firm Bridgetown 2 Holdings, a SPAC entity backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, will give the combined entity an equity value of $1.78 billion. Backed by TPG Capital and KKR, the property marketplace has joined fellow tech majors from the region to take the SPAC route.
In this chat, PropertyGuru CEO Hari Krishnan will trace the growth journey of the marketplace across multiple geographies in a largely traditional and local sector as well as its road ahead.
We will quiz Hari Krishnan about how PropertyGuru has pursued opportunities such as landing big-ticket funding, scaling up both organically and through M&As, striking a SPAC deal and the complexity of serving vastly different markets.
PropertyGuru operates property marketplaces in five of the biggest Southeast Asian economies –Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
13. Taking AI out of science labs and creating scalable models
Ashwini Asokan, CEO & co-founder, Mad Street Den
As CEO & co-founder of computer vision and AI company Mad Street Den, Ashwini Asokan believes in building models that can help millions of people across the globe to become AI natives. The company’s first vertical, Vue.ai, helps the retail industry reimagine and automate workflows while its platform Blox.ai powers businesses across education, healthcare, finance, and entertainment.
Mad Street Den’s backers include Sequoia Capital, Exfinity Ventures, KDDI – Global Brain Japan, and Rocketship VC. Ashokan, who returned to India in 2013 from the US after an 8-year stint with Intel, will talk about her journey, including launching Vue.ai after three years of deep research, and what it takes to scale a SaaS company.
Apart from AI-led revenue growth, process efficiency and revenue/performance marketing, we will also be asking her about hiring and talent, fundraising and valuations, as well as the gender imbalances prevailing in the tech and the startup ecosystems. Asokan strongly believes that diversity is essential and has enforced a 50-50 gender policy at Mad Street Den.
14. An approach to early-stage investing, building unicorns and getting startups IPO-ready in India
Sanjay Nath, Founder, Blume Ventures
As a venture capital firm, if raising money is tough, returning money to one’s limited partners is way tougher, according to early-stage investor Blume Ventures.
Set up in 2010 by Karthik Reddy and Sanjay Nath, Blume has backed over 100 startups, including Dunzo and Instamojo, across its 10-year history through multiple funds.
The VC most recently raised a Rs 350-crore (over $46 million) secondary vehicle to invest in some of its larger portfolio firms to support them for a longer tenure and to allow an exit for some of the early LPs. As part of the secondary vehicle, Blume will continue to invest in at least half a dozen of these portfolio firms including GreyOrange, Turtlemint, among others. Blume is also nearing the deployment cycle of its $102-million third fund, even as it is looking at ways to stay invested in its growing portfolio.
Seasoned investor Nath will take us through India’s growing unicorn count, viable exit avenues for investors and the need for building sustainable businesses. Blume Ventures’s secondary vehicle comes at a time when several prominent startups in India are queueing up for a busy IPO season. We will ask Nath about what prompted the strategy to hold some of the firm’s key bets for a longer term to deliver bigger exit outcomes. Will this trend take off in India’s startup ecosystem?
15. Straddling real estate, healthcare and tech bets: The pillars transforming the Lippo Group
John Riady, CEO, PT Lippo Karawaci Tbk & Managing Director, PT Multipolar Tbk
The Lippo Group is viewed as a proxy for the state of the Indonesian economy. Its performance across key business verticals – real estate, private healthcare, and its tech bets – place it at the centre of Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The group has been in the news recently with ride-hailing and payments decacorn Gojek investing in its retail business, and Axiata Group Bhd., Malaysia’s biggest wireless carrier, being in talks to pick up stake in its portfolio company PT Link Net.
In 2019, in a surprise move, John Riady, grandson of Lippo founder Mochtar Riady, became the CEO of IDX-listed Lippo Karawaci, and was tasked with restoring the property developer’s many challenges at that time. Lippo Karawaci is also the majority shareholder of Indonesia’s largest private healthcare services provider Siloam International Hospitals, where John serves as Chairman of the Board, and owns a stake in SGX-listed Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust, which owns and operates one in every four malls in Indonesia.
As Lippo CEO, John Riady has focused on concentrating on the sweet spots in real estate and healthcare businesses. He is betting on macro drivers like urbanisation and demographics, as well as the digitalisation of healthcare to spur growth at the group’s businesses.
Prior to taking over as CEO, Riady led the group’s digital efforts and investments in SE Asia’s technology sector including in e-payment platform OVO, which counts Grab and Tokopedia among its backers.
The group has made over 40 investments in Indonesia’s tech sector, which Riady believes is at an inflection point. We will hear more from Riady on how he is applying learnings from leading digital initiatives on hardcore brick-and-mortar businesses in the remaking of Lippo Group.
16. How Indonesia’s IDX is getting ready to host mega tech listings
Pandu Sjahrir, Commissioner, Indonesia Stock Exchange
Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) is seeking to tap the growing interest in the tech sector, especially homegrown brands that are looking to debut in the local public market. On August 6, 2021, e-commerce unicorn Bukalapak became the first tech unicorn of its generation to make a stellar debut on the IDX after raising $1.52 billion in its IPO in the bourse’s biggest offering since Adaro Energy’s issue in 2008.
On its part, the IDX is looking at coming out with policy changes related to dual-class share regulation with multiple voting rights to accommodate more tech listings. The policy change is aimed at attracting more local tech companies to list in the domestic market instead of pursuing IPOs abroad.
The archipelago has seen the highest number of IPOs in Southeast Asia since 2018 with 51 companies listing on the bourse in 2020. However, the total amount raised, at $421 million, was much smaller compared with the neighbouring markets of Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
As IDX Commissioner, Pandu Sjahrir – who is also a seasoned investor and board member at several of the region’s tech giants – is working closely to bridge policy gaps and to enable more tech listings on the local bourse.
Pandu Sjahrir wears many hats and is deeply entrenched in the region’s investment ecosystem. Sjahrir also serves as the chairman of SEA Group Indonesia, the board member of Gojek, and the director of Toba Bara, a listed energy enterprise in Indonesia. He is also the managing partner of Indies Capital, an Indonesia-focused alternative asset manager, which has invested in Bukalapak. Indies has a strategic alliance with AC Ventures, an ASEAN-focused early-stage fund. Together, they have invested in over 100 companies.
In this keynote chat, we will ask Sjahrir about the demand for blockbuster IPOs in Indonesia, the pros and cons of local vs overseas listing and the need for tech companies to maximise stakeholder management in the geography of their operations.
Chua Kee Lock, CEO, Vertex Holdings
For Chua Kee Lock, venture investing, at its heart, is a “people business.” He believes top-tier teams and talent are core to building great enterprises. Vertex Holdings has an active portfolio of over 200 firms in technology and healthcare across key innovation hubs around the world. Its regional portfolio includes Grab, PatSnap, Validus, Tickled Media, FirstCry, Warung Pintar and Nium [the latest unicorn in its stable]. Join us in this conversation to know more about Vertex and their ability to create value beyond capital.
Patrick Cao, President, GoTo
The GoTo combine that includes ride-hailing, e-commerce vertical, and financial services also enjoys a huge home market advantage. According to Google, Temasek, and Bain & Co’s recent study, Indonesia’s GMV was $44 billion in 2020, almost half of Southeast Asia’s combined market. This is poised to reach $124 billion by 2025. More than 60 million Indonesians will join the ‘consumption class’ — individuals with over $3,500 in annual revenue. Going forward, food delivery and financial services will likely be the most promising businesses for GoTo.
How does the merger change the pecking order for the super app race in Indonesia with the GoTo combine taking on rivals Grab & Sea? How will GoTo manage the integration issues and overlaps in functions? Is GoTo overvalued or does the combination of different ecosystems under one roof add to the attractiveness of the asset? What will GoTo’s narrative be as it prepares its IPO roadmap? How does GoTo see its growth potential outside the home turf?
GoTo president Patrick Cao will share insights on the journey ahead for the merged entity. Cao is responsible for overseeing the finance, corporate development, investor relations and investment activities of GoTo. Previously the President of Tokopedia since 2016, Cao was responsible for the CFO Office, financial technology businesses and global partnerships.
19. The Near Story: Leveraging data intelligence and analytics to drive digital transformation
Shobhit Shukla, Co-founder and President
NearIt may be under the radar, but Singapore-headquartered Near, a B2B SaaS platform providing data intelligence on online and offline consumer behaviour, may soon emerge as the region’s next unicorn. The company, which has been expanding from ‘East to West’ via M&As and organically says it aggregates anonymised data on 1.6 billion monthly users across 70 million places and is leveraged by 2 out of 3 Fortune 500 businesses. Near has raised $134 million from marquee investors such as Sequoia Capital, JP Morgan, Telstra and Cisco and has a presence across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Shobhit, who co-founded Near along with Anil Mathews, will talk about the company’s global ambitions and the road ahead. We will also ask him about the company’s recent acquisitions: Teemo, a Paris-based location intelligence platform, that allowed Near to crack the European market and offer advanced data intelligence products, as well as California-based UM that provides mobile location data and intelligence. We will also find out more about Near’s enterprise SaaS business model, privacy-by-design principle and its Entrepreneur-in-Residence Programme. Finally, when will Near test the public markets? Do join the session to find out.