Robust activity in North America and mega deals in Asia propelled the venture capital deals in 2018 to record highs.
According to a report by data provider Preqin, a total of 14,889 deals were announced in 2018 worth an aggregate $274 billion, which could rise further as more information becomes available. The interim figure, however, already comfortably surpasses the previous high of $192 billion set in 2017.
The report shows that the deal activity was dominated by North America with transactions worth $113 billion and Greater China – made up of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau – accounting for $107 billion in deal value.
While North America may have a slight edge over Asia in the total deal amount, the largest deals announced in the year were came from Asia-based companies. Nine of the top ten deals in the year came from Asia of which seven were in China. This includes the largest venture capital deal ever announced: the $14-billion funding of Ant Financial Services Group in June.
The payments giant controlled by Jack Ma raked a US dollar tranche backed by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte. as well as Warburg Pincus, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Silver Lake and Temasek Holdings Pte. Meanwhile its existing backers supported a yuan denominated component of the funding.
Other investors in the round included General Atlantic, Carlyle Group, Janchor Partners, Discovery Capital Management, Baillie Gifford, Primavera Capital and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.
“Not only were the vast majority of the largest deals announced this year based in Asia, but we also saw the announcement of the largest venture capital deal ever, for Ant Financial Services Group. It looks like China and North America will continue to vie for the position of the foremost venture capital deal market in the coming months,” said Christopher Elvin, Head of Private Equity.
Following Ant Financial, was US-based JUUL Labs, Inc. that raised $12.8 billion in a funding round in December 2018. The remaining deals came in at the sub-$5 billion level, which also included Singapore-based Grab Holdings’ $2 billion round in August 2018.
Grab is likely to feature in the top deals of 2019 also as it announced on Monday an extension to the August round with a total of $3 billion raised so far in its Series H round. In December, DEALSTREETASIA exclusively reported that Grab is seeking to raise up to $5 billion in an expanded Series H round, way above its original target of $3 billion.
Global venture capital exit activity also had a record year, as 1,094 exits were made for a total of $165 billion. The largest exit of the year also came from Asia, with Flipkart providing exits worth $6.5 billion to its investors, when it sold majority stake to US-based retail giant Walmart Inc.
In May 2018, Walmart acquired 77 per cent stake in Indian e-commerce major Flipkart for $16 billion, providing exits to marquee investors like SoftBank, Tencent, Tiger Global, Microsoft, Qatar Investment Authority among others.