Bualuang Ventures, an investment firm backed by Bangkok Bank, is planning to raise $60-80 million for its second fund next year, according to a company executive.
Bualuang Ventures currently manages a $60 million fund, of which it has deployed $42 million in direct investments, including private equity and VC deals, and capital allocation to venture capital funds.
“We maintain an active robust pipeline which represents $15 million of aggregate investment, and depending on the upcoming pipeline deals, we may start mobilizing the next $60-80 million fund by early Q2 of 2020,” Krit Phanratanamala, who manages private equity and venture capital investments at Bualuang Ventures, said.
The new fund will focus on small and medium enterprises, Gen Y lifestyle, and fintech/ digital branding, he added.
Founded in June 2016, Bualuang Ventures is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bangkok Bank, one of the largest commercial banks in Thailand. It prefers to pick up significant minority stakes in the companies it invests in.
Krit said the investment firm has so far made two private equity investments in the areas of consumer finance and renewable energy in Thailand without disclosing the names of the portfolio companies.
Bualuang Ventures has also invested in venture capital funds managed by New York-based Credit Suisse NEXT Investors and Southeast Asian VC firm Jungle Ventures.
The investment firm supports other startup value chain initiatives by Bangkok Bank. The lender runs Bangkok Bank Innohub, a 12-week accelerator programme, to incubate emerging companies as well as Bualuang Securities, which provides investment banking services for companies to go public. Bualuang Ventures sits right in the middle of these initiatives, according to Krit.
Focused on fintech
Much like other investment arms of Thai lenders such as Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) that runs Digital Ventures, Kasikornbank (Beacon VC) and Bank of Ayudhya, or Krungsri as it is better known (Krungsri Finnovate), fintech is a key focus area at Bualuang Ventures.
According to Krit, there are currently over 140 fintech companies registered in Thailand and more than half of these are new companies. Fintech is also the second most funded category after e-commerce in the country.
Bualuang is currently in the process of finalising two fintech investments in the US and Singapore.
“The two investments are a milestone for us as we move towards becoming a platform for SMEs and startups to collaborate and innovate,” said Krit.
As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning find new applications in the financial services industry, the fintech sector may also see some shifts in business models.
“Although the applications are vast, we believe fintech businesses will steer more towards B2B as market conditions are more favourable,” Krit said.
Other opportunities beyond fintech
Bualuang Ventures is also looking for investment opportunities in other sectors that could be of interest financially and strategically. The firm plans to delve into consumer tech and deep tech investments.
“Our investment portfolio will likely expand to cover more consumer tech and deep tech startups in the future. Today, AI has been used for various business purposes and we anticipate there will be more AI-enabled businesses in the field of consumer tech and deep tech that will be of interest in the future,” said Krit.