Malaysia’s Ekuinas books $137m return from second fund in 2020

Ekuinas CEO Syed Yasir Arafat Syed Abd Kadir speaks at DealStreetAsia's Asia PE-VC Summit 2018 in Singapore.

Malaysia government-linked private equity firm Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) on Thursday reported a gross portfolio return of 571.2 million ringgit ($137.2 million) for its 1 billion ringgit ($240 million) second fund.

Ekuinas Direct (Tranche II) Fund generated a gross internal rate of return (IRR) of 11.9% per annum and a net IRR of 8.2%, Ekuinas said as it announced its financial results for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2020. 

The PE firm said its 1.5 billion ringgit ($360 million) third fund, Ekuinas Direct (Tranche III) Fund, recorded a gross portfolio loss of 75.4 million ringgit ($18 million), translating to a negative gross IRR of 3.2% per annum. However, it said that the loss represents an improvement of 7.6% over 2019.

“The year 2020 started off slow. Overall, private equity (PE) activities fell off sharply in the first quarter, as activities or decisions were put on hold due to the restrictions on travel as well as a pullback in sentiment, with confidence taking an abrupt turn for the worst. However, the disruption brought about by the pandemic did not last long and the PE industry saw a rapid rebound, as reflected in the third quarter numbers of 2020,” said Ekuinas CEO Syed Yasir Arafat Syed Abd Kadir.

Throughout the fiscal year, the PE firm committed 250.2 million ringgit in investments to strengthen its portfolio, bringing its cumulative investment to 4.4 billion ringgit in 42 companies.

Among notable deals sealed by Ekuinas in 2020 was the acquisition of a majority stake in local pharmaceutical company Medispec and investments in Icon Offshore Berhad and Flexi Versa Group. It also completed the sale of homegrown desserts and beverage company Coolblog Apps. 

Established in 2009, Ekuinas invests in Malaysia-based businesses, with an emphasis on core sectors such as education, oil and gas, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail and leisure, healthcare and services. Over the years, it has also broadened its focus to include digital solutions and manufacturing.

The firm’s latest fund is its fourth fund, which was launched in 2019 with a corpus of $240 million. Going forward, the firm said its focus will be on “intensifying deal sourcing and portfolio management, whilst maintaining the overall corporate strategic direction.”

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.