Singapore-based private investment group Golden Equator on Thursday announced that it closed a S$24.6 million ($18.1 million) strategic investment round led by Taizo Son’s Mistletoe.
Other investors include members of royal families, C-level executives of sovereign wealth funds, academics and chairmen of multinational corporations across Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
Golden Equator founder and group CEO Shirley Crystal Chua said the strategic investment is the firm’s first since its founding in 2012.
“We are raising at the group level to build a regional ecosystem. This is unique as we raised money from different individuals and business leaders from around the region,” she said in an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA.
“We plan to do a follow-on round in the next 18 to 24 months and we will be targeting institutional investors. It was a deliberate strategy to have only angel (investors) in the current round,” she added.
The firm’s businesses cover financial services, consultancy, as well as technology and innovation community. It currently serves clients in 12 countries with a diversified mandate covering 10 markets.
Golden Equator’s fully-owned subsidiaries include fund management firm Golden Equator Capital, multi-family office Golden Equator Wealth, fintech solution platform Asia Finance, digital and tech-focused business consultancy Golden Equator Consulting, and a community-driven shared workspace SPECTRUM.
Adding further details on the company structure, Chua said: “Golden Equator Wealth that is a multifamily office. Our fund management arm has two venture funds, one of which is with Korea’s KIP. We recently closed a $30 million plus private capital fund to do Mezzanine deals, and we are raising a $70 million second vehicle here which we plan to close in May. These are single project financing. For Spectrum, the workspace club, and we have plans to go to different cities in the next 18 months.”
Last July, Golden Equator Capital launched a S$120 million ($87 million) venture fund with Korea Investment Partners to cut Series A and B checks in high-growth tech companies in Southeast Asia.
“Our objectives are closely aligned with Golden Equator’s in building the regional business ecosystem. The Group has created a unique set of elements with strong synergies, under the leadership of Shirley. She is a visionary and a great change-maker in the financial and technology sector, who has invested and contributed significantly to the growth of the innovation culture in the region, and together we can build a platform connecting the Asia Pacific and the Middle East regions,” said Mistletoe’s Son.
The Japanese serial entrepreneur is also the youngest brother of SoftBank Group Corp’s founder, Masayoshi Son. Taizo relocated from Japan to Singapore in 2017, and plans to invest $100 million in Southeast Asia in five years’ time.
Golden Equator’s relationship with Mistletoe – a hybrid accelerator and incubator – started back in 2018 when the former roped in Taizo as its special advisor. Mistletoe went on to base its first Asia office outside of Japan at SPECTRUM to “revolutionise the business landscape and build an ecosystem through access, networks and connections.”
When asked on how the company (Golden Equator) was valued at a group level, considering the different businesses it operated, Chua said: “We have both traditional businesses and the funds arm. There is a mixture of stability that the traditional businesses brings in, regarding cash flow, and we can project where the other arms are headed in the next 3-5 years. At a group level, we have balance sheet holding power.”
She further said that each of the subsidiaries would fundraise on its own, and find exits in their respective businesses, and that would contribute to the group’s balance sheet.
“So our investors at the group level will share the exits, or there will be dividends,” she added.
In an unrelated development, Chua also said that Golden Equator-KIP joint venture fund had deferred its final close to August-September this year. (This joint fund had replaced GEC’s own tech and innovation fund II, for which it had been seeking up to S$100 million). When announcing this vehicle last year, Golden Equator had said the Co-GP fund had already received 65 per cent commitments and was targeting a final close by the 2018-end.
South Korean VC InterVest Co. is also partnering Indonesia’s Kejora Ventures to raise a $100 million fund that is expected to hit the final close soon. This vehicle – InterVest Star Southeast Asia Growth Fund I – is set to do Series B rounds and upwards in Southeast Asia.