Editor’s take: The week that was – July 29 – August 2

The DealStreetAsia logo is pictured at its annual conference in Singapore.

The week unfolded some interesting developments in terms of news breaks, trends, analysis and interviews. Here’s a recap.

In our continued coverage of private equity firm L Catterton Asia, Tanu reported that the firm has hired former Khazanah executive Chinta Bhagat as a managing partner for Asia. The hiring comes amidst reports of a spin-out of its Asia team, involving at least five executives led by managing partner and Asia chairman Ravi Thakran.

In a fundraising exclusive, Kristie reported Sydney-based accelerator BlueChilli is eyeing a $69-million global venture fund in 2020. The fund plans to invest in pre-seed, seed and Series A startups from its accelerator programmes in Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.

Meanwhile, Kay captured the latest news on Singapore-based grocery and food delivery startup Honestbee formally applying for a court-supervised restructuring process. The firm, which is said to owe its creditors over $180 million, had roped in Ong Lay Ann as its new CEO last week.

On the M&A front, Deviana had two interesting leads this week. One, Singapore-based healthcare-focused PE firm Quadria Capital has hired Advay Capital to sell its stake in India’s Medica Superspecialty Hospital.

Second, Japan’s Itochu Techno-Solution has acquired a majority stake in two Indonesian IT firms from CompNet Group, for $74 million.

This week, Indonesia’s state-owned lender BRI launched its corporate venture capital arm, BRI Ventures, with a $250-million debut fund. The unit, which will seek to back growth and late-stage startups, has kicked off operations with a $100-million initial allocation and hired Nicko Widjaja from MDI Ventures as its new CEO.

Budget hotel platform RedDoorz announced closing $45 million in a Series B round led by Qiming Ventures, confirming a March report by DealStreetAsia.

From unicorn land

Grab announced it is setting aside $2 billion to roll out new services in healthcare, e-scooters and food delivery in Southeast Asia’s largest market, Indonesia. The capital is sourced from SoftBank, its largest investor, but does not represent a fresh injection of funds into the company.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported Indonesian travel unicorn Traveloka is seeking to raise $500 million in fresh funding at a $4.5-billion valuation. In April, DealStreetAsia had reported that the online travel major had bagged $420 million in funding from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian ReviewGrab Ventures chief Chris Yeo said that the Singapore-based company plans to make two to four new strategic investments in startups every year, targeting companies at Series B or higher fundraising stages. Most of these deals will be for minority stakes.

Meanwhile, three foreign insurance companies — Thailand’s Muang Thai Insurance and Muang Thai Life Assurance, as well as South Korea’s DB Insurance — cancelled their plans to launch operations in Myanmar after the government tweaked requirements at the last minute.

Meanwhile, in India 

It was a sombre week as news came in of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha’s death and its repercussions for the company.

In other news, Tiger Global led a $75-million funding round for home services marketplace UrbanClap as part of a funding spree in India that has seen it invest about $300 million across 13 startups so far this year.

Meanwhile, Alteria Capital, which provides loans to startups, closed its maiden venture debt fund at a corpus of $140 million, signalling a sharp rise in appetite for debt financing from startups.

Taking a deeper look

Tech-backed coffee chains in Indonesia are increasingly attracting investor interest as VC firms including Alpha JWC, East Ventures, SMDV, Pavilion Capital, Agaeti Venture Capital, Insignia Ventures Partners, and Sequoia Capital, have pumped in large amounts in local coffee chains. However, there is still a long way to go before they are seen as more than the latest fad, reported Ardi.

Meanwhile, Thai corporate VCs are doling out much less capital to local startups as they increasingly chase global deals. In 2018, they invested a total of $106.7 million, of which as much as $95 million was poured in the overseas markets.

Up close and personal

In an interview, LinkAja CEO Danu Wicaksana answered questions on the road ahead for the state-backed e-wallet platform after its recent launch and why he thinks it is not too late in entering a market dominated by Grab-backed OVO and GOJEK’s Go-Pay.

Sarah spoke with James Monsees, chief executive and co-founder of US-based e-cigarette unicorn JUUL Labs, on its recent foray into Indonesia as it seeks to tap the market with the second-largest number of smokers in Asia after China.