Editor’s take: The week that was — March 1-6

As we compile the list of significant developments that unfolded in Asia last week, we see an interesting shift in trend. A lot of headlines are now being dominated by SPAC-related news across markets. Earlier, the SPAC frenzy was primarily associated with companies in Southeast Asia but now it seems that countries like India, too, are warming up to the idea of listing through the SPAC route.

Indonesian unicorn Bukalapak recently made headlines for considering a US listing via SPAC. Sources told us at DealStreetAsia that the e-commerce giant is also eyeing an IPO on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) as it looks to save tax costs associated with the listing process in the US.

Meanwhile, KKR-backed Singaporean online realty firm PropertyGuru is understood to be working with a financial adviser as it weighs a US listing via SPAC.

In India, Walmart Inc-owned Flipkart is reportedly looking to go public in the US through a merger with a blank-check company.

TradeUP Global, led by Zhencheng Capital founder Jianwei Li, has also joined the SPAC listing frenzy by filing to raise a $40 million IPO in the US. Li’s first SPAC – TradeUP Acquisition – filed to raise $40 million in February.

Other IPO news

As many as seven IPOs, including that of REITs, are lined up to launch on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) this year that goes on to signal how the country is to set to witness traction on the bourse. Together, they could raise a record amount of over $3.3 billion, surpassing the total of $2.7 billion raised in the archipelago from 2016 to 2020.

In addition to the aforesaid, noodle-maker Monde Nissin, too, made headlines as it filed to raise $1.3 billion in the largest-ever Philippine IPO.

In Malaysia, AirAsia Group is looking to list its profitable logistics arm Teleport as early as the second half of next year, the unit’s chief Pete Chareonwongsak said. “Our final goal remains to get listed within the next 18 months.”

Connect Biopharma, a loss-making clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm, based in China, filed for an IPO to raise up to $100 million on Nasdaq.

From the unicorn land

Singapore-based gaming and e-commerce giant Sea Ltd announced its financial result, reporting a more than double growth in its revenues and gross profits in 2020, compared with the previous year.

The NYSE-listed firm is now looking to conquer the Latin American e-commerce market, beginning with the region’s two largest markets — Brazil and Mexico.

In Indonesia, travel unicorn Traveloka said it has managed to turn a profit in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently finalising its plan to go public. It, however, did not offer details on how the company managed to achieve the feat in a period that left it reeling from what it described as “the lowest business rate since inception”.

On a fundraising trail

Singapore’s Asia Partners hit the final close of its debut PE fund at $384 million, signaling a strong investor appetite for the region’s burgeoning market for e-commerce, payments, mobile apps, and other tech and internet startups. The fund – Asia Partners I – seeks to make investments starting from $20 million in tech startups.

US-based OrbiMed closed its fourth Asia-focused healthcare fund at $800 million, thereby surpassing its earlier target. Its third fund closed at $551 million in 2017.

Chinese venture capitalist Addor Capital announced the completion of its second health industry investment fund at $240.8 million to step up investments in emerging innovative drug developers in the country.

AppWorks, a VC firm that invests in Taiwan and Southeast Asia, has raised $114 million for its third fund that is expected to have a total corpus of $150 million. “As we started investing for the most part of 2019, we realised our pipeline was much stronger than we had expected,” Jamie Lin, chairman and partner at AppWorks, said.

Unicorn Capital Partners, a Hong Kong-based investor, has filed to raise a new PE fund that is likely to invest in areas of technology, media and entertainment, and healthcare.

Deals corner

Indonesian last-mile delivery startup SiCepat Ekspres closed a Series B funding round of $170 million backed by a host of investors including Falcon House Partners, Pavilion Capital and MDI Ventures. The deal confirms an earlier DealStreetAsia’s report published in January.

Another Indonesian startup PAYFAZZ, operating in the fintech space, announced a strategic investment of $30 million in Singapore counterpart Xfers, following which both companies will become part of a newly-formed entity, Fazz Financial Group.

Vietnam’s online bus ticket booking system VeXeRe has initiated talks to raise its pre-Series C round, sources told us on condition of anonymity. Negotiations are at an advanced stage and the transaction is almost on the verge of completion.

BDA Capital Partners, the PE investment vehicle of advisory firm BDA Partners, has pumped in capital in Vietnam-based pediatric clinic operator Nhi Dong 315, marking its first deal from its debut fund. Nhi Dong 315 founder Vy Nguyen told us that the investment is a part of its Series A round.

In-depths

We captured a trend on how Indonesia is seeing sound VC interest in the nascent podcast industry, as players gear up to carve out their expansion plans. Investors active in the space are Alpha JWC and Kinesys Group, among others.

Meanwhile, aggrieved investors of the defunct restaurant operator Huy Vietnam have started moving US courts for justice. Liquidators, acting on behalf of the investors, have asked the Southern District Court of New York to recognise the alleged fraud committed by Huy Nhat against them.

In Cambodia, OOCTANE, a venture capital firm backed by local logistics company Worldbridge Group, has started scouting for ‘late-stage investment opportunities’ in the country due to paucity of quality deals in early stages.

Candid chats

Singapore-based investor Heritas Capital, which recently launched its second venture fund with a target corpus of $30 million, is betting big on sectors such as health tech, edtech, and foodtech that have seen disruptions caused by the pandemic. “To be clear, even the so-called traditional businesses are going to infuse more tech into their operations,” its CEO Chik Wai Chiew told us in an interview.

According to Aatif Awan, managing partner at Pakistan’s Indus Valley Capital that closed its $17.5 million debut fund, said deals in the country are currently clocked mostly in the seed to Series A-stages.

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.