Gobi Partners promotes Kenneth Tan, Taraec Hussein to VPs in ASEAN team

Taraec Hussein. Photo: Gobi Partners

Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur based venture capital firm, Gobi Partners, Tuesday said it had had elevated two of its investment associates –  Kenneth Tan and Taraec Hussein – to position of Vice President, in its ASEAN team.

The development comes even as Gobi is set to announce the second close of its  Meranti ASEAN Growth Fund at over $100 million. The VC firm is aiming to raise $200 million for this vehicle that will invest in cloud services, e-commerce, fintech and Muslim-focused tech (also known as Taqwa tech), and plans to build a portfolio of 15 companies or more, with investment ticket sizes ranging from $5 million to $20 million per transaction.

Gobi Partners had made a first close of this fund at $50 million (RM214.74 million) in August last year, and it had been backed by limited partners Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP), Korean home shopping company GS Shop and Indonesia-based investment firm CKM.

Kenneth Tan, a Singaporean, who had started as an investment analyst at Gobi’s headquarters in Shanghai, is currently based in the firm’s Kuala Lumpur office, and was part of the team that had overseen investments into companies such as Carsome, Crowdo, Favful, Glints, and Travelio. He was also part of the team that helped the VC firm become a co-investor role with the city-state’s SGInnovate Program.

In December, SGInnovate had announced that it has appointed 17 co-investors under the Startup SG Equity scheme to collectively identify and co-invest with it in early-stage deep tech startups. The programme is aimed to drive investments in areas prioritised in Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan or RIE2020, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain.

Taraec Hussein, who hails from Kuala Lumpur, had previously held roles in the CEO’s office and investments department at MAVCAP, where he worked on fundraising for regional venture capital funds.  At Gobi, he is currently overseeing the firm’s TaqwaTech initiative – seeking investments into innovative tech startups that serve Muslim consumers, enterprises and communities.

“He had also previously worked at Maybank Investment Bank as Assistant Manager in the Equity Capital Markets Department where he was involved in 13 equity fund raising transactions raising $5.8 billion across ASEAN. Notable deals during his banking stint include the IPOs of AirAsia X, 7-Eleven Malaysia and Robinson Retail in the Philippines as well as the rights issue and placement of Central Pattana Group’s property fund in Thailand,” the firm said in a statement.

The promotions of the two executives come as the firm, which currently has three ASEAN-oriennted funds, is expanding its presence in the region.

Its founding partner, Thomas G. Tsao said: “2017 will be remembered as the inflection point when the emerging integration of Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia became a reality. Gobi was fortunate to identify this trend early and, as result, we built out regional capabilities and infrastructure before others. These much deserved promotions will help Gobi maintain its leadership, broaden our coverage in ASEAN and add value for our entrepreneurs and LPs.”

Gobi’s most recent investments in ASEAN companies include fast-fashion e-commerce website Sale Stock ($27 million, Series B) and logistics platform Deliveree ($14.5 million, Series A).