Editor’s take: The week that was — Sept 27-Oct 1

We just concluded the sixth edition of our annual flagship Asia PE-VC Summit, an immersive conference that gathered 80+ top leaders from the investment community in the region who shared their perspectives and outlook for 2022 and beyond.

From the LP quarters, we learnt that allocations to the Asia-Pacific may be on a northward trend. “Asia is reaching, in terms of size, skill, depth, and maturity, a stage where it probably will attract more capital as it has more experienced managers, more exit avenues, and mature private markets to take such capital,” said Sunil Mishra, a partner responsible for primary investments at Adams Street Partners.

Hemal Mirani, managing director at HarbourVest Partners, noted that the global pandemic had broadened participation for many investors who may not have had budgets to travel to the region. The downside, however, is that new LP-GP relationships are harder to form online in the current situation.

Institutional investors are also closely watching the recent events related to tighter scrutiny and a regulatory crackdown on a variety of sectors in China, the second-largest market outside the US for limited partners. The developments may have sharpened the focus on ESG as a key investment theme.

In other highlights, two leading sponsors predicted that the SPAC frenzy isn’t about to fade anytime soon. “I generally believe that the US market will come into play once again by Q1 next year,” said Ravi Thakran, managing partner at Turmeric Capital and the chairman and CEO of Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. Thakran oversees two US-listed SPACs.

Vickers Venture Partners founder and chairman Finian Tan agreed, adding that there is “no dearth of good quality assets” even though many SPACs are still seeking targets. Vickers is also eyeing a SPAC listing in Singapore.

Northstar Group is evaluating a SPAC listing in Singapore, said co-founder and managing partner Patrick Walujo. Unlike US-listed SPACs, Singapore SPACs are attractive because it allows smaller companies to participate, calling it a potential “game-changer.”

And, PropertyGuru‘s CEO and managing director Hari V. Krishnan also expressed confidence that the Southeast Asian online realty company’s US listing will take place in the first quarter of 2022 amidst a global waning interest in SPACs.

In a focus market track on the Philippines, participants observed that there are a lot of catalysts at play that spell a big opportunity, particularly for fintech investors and startups. Furthermore, US-based investors are particularly bullish about SE Asia’s potential in embedded finance and foresee SE Asia borrowing learnings from fintech ecosystems in the US, China, and India.

From the regulatory side, Indonesian authorities are discussing new guidelines on dual classes of shares for companies, with the measures likely to be rolled out this year, IDX commissioner Pandu Sjahrir said at our summit.

During the course of the week, we will bring you more updates and highlights from our four-day virtual summit.

Fundraising trail

Healthcare-focused private equity firm Quadria Capital is looking to launch a separate venture capital fund to invest exclusively in  SE Asia. The firm could raise about $100 million for the VC fund, managing partner Amit Varma said at our summit. Quadria invests in the VC space through HealthQuad.

Vertex Ventures expects to raise at least $400 million next year for a new fund focusing on Southeast Asia and India. It raised $305 million in its fourth fund.

Impact investor Elevar Equity has so far raised $33 million for its fifth India-focused fund. Elevar Equity aims to raise $300 million for the said fund. Elevar has backed Latin America’s Favo, India’s SarvaGram and Mexico’s Justo, among others.

Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System has committed $100 million to Baring Private Equity Asia‘s eighth buyout fund, which is targeting to raise $8.5 billion.

Chinese PE FountainVest Partners has raised $595.9 million from investors in the US for its fourth fund. FountainVest is reportedly targeting to raise $2.8 billion, with a hard cap set at $3.2 billion.

Cathay Life Insurance has agreed to commit $50 million to the fifth PE fund of US-based Linden Capital Partners.

Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation committed $75 million to the third secured lending fund of Hong Kong-based asset manager Ares SSG. Ares SSG’s Secured Lending Opportunities Fund III closed at more than $1.6 billion in July.

US-based VC firm Goodwater Capital – an active investor in Asia – has raised $1 billion in new funds to invest in global early and growth stage consumer tech startups.

IFC has proposed an anchor investment of up to $110 million in the sustainability-linked bond to be issued by Singapore’s Sembcorp Financial Services. The total SLB issuance is expected to be about S$800 million.

Singapore-based Heritas Capital, part of the diversified IMC Group, has secured the first close of its second venture vehicle at a little over $10 million.

Singapore-based Forge Ventures has held the first close for its debut venture fund, which will back seed-stage companies, at $21.88 million.

Alteria Capital has hit the final close of its second venture debt fund at $242 million. Meanwhile, InnoVen Capital India Fund, sponsored by venture debt provider InnoVen Capital, has hit the first close of $100 million.

From the unicorn quarters

India’s hospitality unicorn Oyo has joined a string of startups looking to go public this year by filing for a $1.1 billion IPO. The offering will see some of its investors including Softbank Group book a partial exit. Oyo’s founder Ritesh Aggarwal, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Ventures are, however, not selling shares in this IPO. Ahead of the IPO, Oyo is facing a legal tussle with rival Zostel over a deal between the two Indian hospitality startups that fell apart six years ago.

Online tutoring platform Vedantu is now the fifth Indian edtech to achieve unicorn status as the company raised $100 million in a Series E funding led by Singapore-based ABC World Asia. Vedantu joins recently-minted edtech unicorns Eruditus and upGrad.

Social commerce platform Meesho has raised $570 million led by Fidelity Management & Research Company and B Capital Group. In April, Meesho became a unicorn after it raised $300 million led by SoftBank.

Ola Electric has raised over $200 million in a funding round, led by Falcon Edge, Softbank and others. The latest funding round took the company’s valuation to $3 billion.

Thai digital payment firm Ascend Money became Southeast Asia’s latest unicorn with a new $150 million funding round from Bow Wave Capital and existing investors CP Group and Ant Group. The investment values Ascend Money at $1.5 billion, making the company Thailand’s first fintech unicorn.

In people news from Indonesian fintech unicorn OVO, Jason Thompson, the company’s chief executive officer, has put in his papers to join Partior, a Singapore-headquartered blockchain firm. COO Jaygan Fu Ponnudurai will be taking over at the helm.

Deal news

Vietnam’s e-commerce company Tiki expects to close an upsized Series E funding round soon after receiving strong investor interest, Group president and CFO Richard Trieu Pham said at our summit. In July, the firm was understood to have secured the first close of its Series E round at around $100 million.

Gurugram-headquartered Sunstone Eduversity, an edtech startup that offers a ‘pay after placement’ fee structure for higher education programmes, is close to raising $25 million in a funding round from private equity firm Westbridge Capital. The company is raising the sum at a pre-money valuation of $75 million. Sunstone Eduversity raised its Series A round led by Saama Capital.

Singapore Telecom has divested a 70% stake in its Australian tower network to superannuation fund AustralianSuper for $1.37 billion and said it will use the proceeds to fund a 5G rollout and for data centres.

Pakistan’s first BNPL player QisstPay has raised $15 million in seed & pre-seed rounds with a mix of equity and debt. MSA Capital led the round with the participation of Global Founders Capital, Fox Ventures and First Check Ventures.

Indonesian online P2P lending firm Investree is said to be in talks to raise funding for its Series D round. The firm is looking to raise up to $100 million and expects to close the funding by the end of this year.

Indonesian aquaculture startup eFishery is in talks to secure Series C funding from investors including Sequoia Capital, Temasek, and SoftBank. eFishery currently counts Northstar Group and Go-Ventures among its investors.

State-controlled lender PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia has raised $6.73 billion from a rights issue this month, the biggest transaction of this type in Southeast Asia.

Analysis and deep-dives

Armed with $578-million fresh funding in an Alibaba-backed round, Singapore-based logistics startup Ninja Van is ramping up its business units beyond last-mile delivery. Ninja Van has recently built its B2B arm offering merchants cross-border shipment, escrow and inventory sourcing services. Providing supply chain financing solutions would likely be next on the cards, Ninja Van co-founder and chief executive Chang Wen Lai said in an interview.

SE Asian ride-hailing giant Grab is scouting for potential partnerships with Indonesian banks, following rivals such as Gojek and Sea Ltd., who have upped their financial services play by acquiring stakes in local lenders.

The management of Indonesian edtech startup HarukaEDU is pumping new blood into the company to expedite its growth plans in the region. The eight-year-old startup, which is backed by SIG and Taiwanese VC AppWorks, has roped in new CXOs, is rebranding itself to ‘Pintar’, and is set to launch an eponymous platform that will host its various offerings.

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.