Singapore-registered, Myanmar-focused private equity firm Ascent Capital has held a final close of its debut fund at $88 million, after collecting over $80 million by June this year, according to a press release.
Launched in the first quarter of 2018, the Ascent Myanmar Growth Fund I (AMGF) was seeking to raise between $50 million and $100 million, and hit its first close in October 2018.
Anchor investors in the fund include Myanmar’s Aung Moe Kyaw, founder and co-chairman of Myanmar Distillery Company Ltd, and Singapore’s Tony Chew, co-founder of MDC Group and chairman of Asia Resource Corporation. Other key investors include Singapore’s state investor Temasek, the Asian Development Bank and JG Summit Holdings from the Philippines.
AMGF will invest at least $5 million in each company, with a special interest in the consumer, education, financial services, healthcare, logistics and TMT (telecom, media and technology) sectors.
In June this year, the fund clocked its first deal, leading a $26 million funding for internet service provider Frontiir.
“We expect to see continued, stable growth for Myanmar’s economy. In spite of the short-term tailwinds facing the economy, we remain positive about Myanmar’s long-term potential,” commented Lim Chong Chong, founder and managing partner of Ascent Capital.
“We will maintain our focus on sectors which will benefit from Myanmar’s robust growth, namely in consumer, education, healthcare, financial services and technology while furthering the UN SDG goals of no poverty, quality education, gender equality, and decent work and economic growth.”
AMGF is currently the single largest investment fund in Myanmar, followed by Delta Capital Myanmar’s $70 million second fund. Delta Capital Myanmar’s first fund was a $50 million, 2013-vintage vehicle.
Other active private equity funds in Myanmar include Anthem Asia, Daiwa PI Partners and Myanmar Strategic Holdings.
Daiwa PI Partners set up the Daiwa Myanmar Growth Fund in July 2019 with total committed capital of $30 million, which recently jointly invested in plastic bottles recycler Commercial Plastics Company along with Delta Capital Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Anthem Asia is raising its Myanmar SME Venture Fund with a $50-million target. Delta Capital is also understood to be in the market for raising its third investment vehicle.
Amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said in a recent report on PE funds in emerging markets that most fund managers in Southeast Asia are experiencing delays in fundraising.
“Most of the capital is expected to go to established fund managers, which will negatively impact smaller or SME-focused funds,” IFC said.
“Nobody wants to be the first to the party. There is always a need for any first-time fundraiser to have LPs who believe in you,” Chong Chong told us in an earlier interaction.
As Ascent Capital had secured a major portion of the maiden fund corpus prior to the global pandemic, it has helped the PE firm to focus on the capital deployment.