Editor's take: The week that was—Nov 13-18

Editor's take: The week that was—Nov 13-18

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DealStreetAsia, in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, this week released an exhaustive report titled Singapore Venture Funding Landscape 2023: A Nine-Month Study, which showed that the city-state continued to stand out as the top fundraising hub in Southeast Asia in the first nine months of 2023, in terms of both deal count and value. Singapore startups garnered 64% of the region’s total deal volume from January to September, up from 56% in the same period last year, while capturing the lion’s share of deal value at 63%.

Separately, the monthly deal review based on proprietary data collated by DealStreetAsia showed that fundraising in SE Asia fell below the coveted $1 billion mark for the seventh time this year in October as startups raised a mere $663 million from 53 deals during the month.

Scroll down for the other headlines of the week!

LP-GP Updates

US-based Warburg Pincus is bullish about opportunities arising in Vietnam’s private healthcare and education sectors, as it continues to look at the areas it has backed in the country, said Warburg Pincus president Jeffrey Perlman.

The global private equity firm is also understood to be looking at a potential investment in Xuyen A, a Vietnamese hospital chain with four facilities in Ho Chi Minh City and adjacent provinces.

Backing first-time GPs offers an edge in this uncertain market, said Saison Capital partner Qin En Looi in an exclusive recent interaction with DealStreetAsia.

Global investment management firm Allianz Global Investors’s Asia private credit business is intensifying its strategic focus on high-growth markets, particularly India and Southeast Asia, as performing credit assumes a prominent role in the sector.

U.S investment giant Carlyle Group has lowered the target for its latest pan-Asia private equity fund by at least 30% from its original $8.5 billion, three people with knowledge of the matter said, as a slowing global economy and geopolitical tensions dull investors’ appetite.

BPEA EQT, the Asian private equity (PE) arm of Swedish investment firm EQT, has initiated talks to acquire a stake in Trianz Holdings, a global digital transformation consulting and technology services firm with dual headquarters – in India and California.

Global private markets investor Pantheon is rolling out the Pantheon Global Private Equity Fund to private and institutional investors in more than 20 countries outside of the US, according to a company announcement.

Dutch development bank FMO is considering a proposal to invest $10 million in the second private equity (PE) fund of Vietnam-focused investor Asia Business Builders (ABB), according to a disclosure.

Cambodia-based investment firm OBOR Management has sold a 40% stake to Cambodian Investment Management (CIM) and Singapore-domiciled Tanncam Investment, which will become the firm’s strategic shareholders, per a statement by CIM.

Deals & News

Chinese retail giant Alibaba has agreed to buy a minority interest in Vietnam-based cosmetics and beauty chain Hasaki through its unit Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group. Hasaki is backed by Hong Kong-headquartered private equity firm Excelsior Capital Asia’s Vietnam fund.

Aera VC, which is one of Asia’s oldest climate funds, is looking to ramp up investments in the rather nascent sector, hoping to land a windfall in the years to come. It is targeting investments in various Southeast Asian countries, besides India, France, Australia, and California.

Impact investment firm Aavishkaar Capital has closed its sixth India fund at a corpus of $150 million, 50% higher than its predecessor funds, its executives told DealStreetAsia.

Indonesian conglomerate PT Astra International Tbk has notched up its investment game this year as it continues to be bullish on Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The firm spent around 27 trillion rupiah on investing activities in 9M 2023, more than double compared with 12.64 trillion rupiah in the same period last year.

Indonesian peer-to-peer lender JULO is considering expanding its geographic footprint beyond its home market, possibly eyeing the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Philippines-based e-commerce enabler Etaily has raised $17.8 million in a Series A funding round co-anchored by Chinese PE firm SKS Capital and Singapore’s Pavilion Capital.

Eko Kurniadi, the new venture partner at Alpha JWC Ventures, is said to be building a venture studio to create and grow profitable businesses. Alpha JWC Ventures plans to invest in the new venture.

Singapore will launch cross-border QR code payments with Indonesia by the end of this week, central bank chief Ravi Menon said. The city-state will also have instant payment linkages between its PayNow system and Malaysia’s DuitNow by the end of the week.

Shenzhen Shichuangyi Electronics has secured 340 million yuan ($46.6 million) in a Series B funding round led by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

Singapore-based ride-hailing giant Grab’s president Ming Maa is exiting the firm, according to an announcement. The Nasdaq-listed company said that Maa will step down from Grab at the end of April 2024.

Indonesia’s financial services regulator OJK has further tightened norms governing the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry by putting a cap on the interest rates on loans. Furthermore, the regulator said the caps will apply based on the nature and use of the loans, which have been split as consumptive or productive loans.

TikTok has been holding talks with Indonesian e-commerce companies,  including GoTo’s e-commerce unit Tokopedia, Bukalapak.com and Blibli, about possible partnerships, an Indonesian minister said.

OCBC Indonesia will acquire 99% of PT Bank Commonwealth from Commonwealth Bank of Australia for an upfront cash consideration of approximately A$220 million (about $142 million), subject to completion adjustments.

Solar technology developer Anhui Huasun Energy has bagged 2 billion yuan ($276.3 million) in a Series C funding round led by China Green Development Investment Group (CGDG), a state-owned enterprise that makes strategic investments to accelerate the green energy transition.

Ping An-backed Lufax Holding, the second-largest non-traditional financial service provider for small business owners in China, has agreed to acquire virtual bank Ping An OneConnect Bank (PAOB) for HK$ 933 million ($119.5 million) in cash from OneConnect Financial Technology.

Chinese self-driving firm iMotion Automotive Technology is aiming to raise $100 million in its Hong Kong IPO due to launch in the last week of November, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Xingji Meizu Group, a smartphone maker that was acquired by the founder of Chinese automotive firm Zhejiang Geely Holding in July 2022, has raised a total of 2 billion yuan ($276.1 million) in an extended angel and Series A round.

Wize, the Dubai-based startup that provides sustainable last-mile delivery solutions, has announced raising $16 million in its pre-seed funding round backed by Middle East and North Africa (MENA)-focused angel investors.

Alibaba Group has scrapped plans to spin off its cloud business, citing uncertainties created by US export curbs on chips used in artificial intelligence applications.

Deep Dives

In the cutthroat arena of e-commerce, SE Asian tech giant Sea Limited continues to prioritise aggressive investments for its marketplace business to strengthen its market leadership position, although the strategy put the company back in the red. After delivering a profit in the previous three quarters, Sea Ltd reported a net loss of $144 million for the third quarter of 2023, according to the firm’s Q3 report.

From shifting work cultures to economic uncertainties, co-working space operators around the world have been navigating a plethora of challenges post-pandemic. Despite these hurdles, Indonesian players still see strong demand in the sector but their success hinges on a carefully crafted business model, according to industry players.

Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, has seen readjustments in its startup ecosystem amid global macroeconomic uncertainties but is likely to remain the region’s bright spot, according to a new report by AC Ventures and Bain & Company.

Even as macroeconomic uncertainties and a prolonged funding winter continue to hamper the growth of startups in India, a bunch of micro VC firms have hit the road this year to raise capital to invest in early-stage enterprises with high growth potential.

With a stable government, an abundance of talented engineers and state-of-the-art tech infrastructure, Singapore has become a key hub for tech companies from East and West. The city-state provides vast computing power to Southeast Asia’s fast-expanding digital economy and is home to nearly half of the data centre capacity in the region, Nikkei reported.

A Twist in the Tale

In a shocking development late Friday night, the board of the company behind ChatGPT fired OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, considered by many as the human face of generative AI. Altman, who ran Y Combinator, is a serial entrepreneur and investor. Altman posted on X shortly after OpenAI published its blog: “i loved my time at openai. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. most of all i loved working with such talented people. will have more to say about what’s next later.”

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