SEA Digest: Carsome posts strong sales recovery; F88 raises $4.7m in bonds

Carsome, a Southeast Asian used-car platform, has reported a strong transaction recovery in June and July, as many countries in the region eased their pandemic-related movement restrictions. In addition, F88, a financial services firm headquartered in Vietnam, has raised $4.7 million from a new bond issue.

Carsome reports strong sales recovery post-COVID lockdown

Southeast Asian used-car platform Carsome reported Monday its June transaction volume almost fully recovered and July deals were on track for a record, as regional lockdowns related to the on-going pandemic were eased.

June transactions jumped 300 per cent over May’s levels and climbed 70 per cent on-year, even as Carsome’s inspection centers operated at limited capacity, the online platform said in a statement.

CEO and co-founder Eric Cheng attributed the recovery in part to the company’s efforts to use the downtime to train its workforce for improved productivity and to accelerate the launch of digital mobile apps to speed bidding on cars and inspections.

Listed Malaysian auto distributor Bermaz Auto, which distributes Mazda vehicles, also reported a strong pick up in bookings since the tax exemption was announced, according to a CGS-CIMB report on a mid-June conference call with CEO Data Francis Lee. The company expected its sales to rise around 15 per cent on-year in its fiscal year ending April, mainly on higher sales in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, the government last month said it would fully exempt the 10 per cent sales tax on sales of locally made cars for the second half of this year, and reduce the tax by 50 per cent on imported vehicles.

Brokerage RHB estimated in a June report this would reduce the cost of locally made vehicles by 5-6 per cent.

“Without this incentive, consumers will likely be a lot more cautious in committing to big-ticket discretionary purchases, even after the economy restarts again. This, coupled with historical low interest rates, will encourage consumers to take advantage of the lower cost of owning car,” RHB said.

Carsome last raised $50 million in a series C round in December, with investors including MUFG Innovation Partners, as well as earlier backers Gobi Partners and Convergence Ventures.

Financial services firm F88 raises $4.7m bonds issue

Vietnam-based financial services firm F88 has issued a third tranche of bonds this year, worth 108 billion dong ($4.7 million) to facilitate its nationwide expansion.

The non-convertible notes, yielding 12.5 per cent per annum, follows two other fundraisers through bonds by the company this year, totaling 92 billion dong. Earlier in 2019, F88 had raised 100 billion dong from its bonds.

The company said that it has reached 200 stores across the country and aimed to double its consumer loans to 3 trillion dong in 2020.

Last month, existing private equity backers Mekong Capital and Granite Oak injected another $6 million into F88, valuing the business at $91 million.

Starting out as a pawnshop operator, F88 has expanded itself to other financial products such as life and non-life insurance, bill payments, and mobile money and e-wallet top-ups.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.