South Korea’s internet giant Naver to join Sequoia, SoftBank funds as LP: Report

NAVER Library: An open library with magazines, encyclopedias, design and IT related books. Photo from Naver's website.

Naver Corp, the operator of South Korea’s biggest search engine and internet portal, is mulling investing in funds operated by Sequoia Capital and Japan’s SoftBank Group as part of efforts to diversify its investment portfolio.

According to a Korea Investors report, Naver’s board has decided to participate as a limited partner in Sequoia Capital’s Global Growth Fund III, a private equity fund that made the first close of $6 billion, with a hard cap of $8 billion.

The South Korean Internet giant has also committed capital to a China fund co-managed by SoftBank and US private equity firm TPG.

The report did not provide the exact amount of Naver’s funding commitment to the two new funds but a CNBC report in March said Sequoia Capital has set a $250-million minimum check size for LPs to participate in its Global Growth Fund III.

The new Sequoia fund makes growth investments in the communications, consumer discretionary, financials, healthcare, industrials, and technology sectors in North America and Asia Pacific.

Early this week, Sequoia Capital, an early investor in Google Inc, Apple Inc, and other global tech giants, filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission its intention to raise six venture-capital and growth funds in the United States, China, and India.

The filing does not shed any light on the amount Sequoia intends to raise for each of these vehicles.

Naver, which has about $2 billion in cashable assets, is joining the new funds of Sequoia and SoftBank after both firms invested $50 million in the Chinese operation of Snow, Naver’s video messaging app, for a 20 per cent stake in January.

The new commitment will not be a first for Naver and SoftBank. Naver, according to its filing in May, had committed W86.5 billion ($78 million) to SoftBank Ventures in two tranches between 2014 and 2016.

Naver, which held $1.8 billion in cashable assets as at end-March, has been seeking to improve cash management through investment diversification efforts.

In 2017, the company acquired Xerox Research Centre in France for an undisclosed amount. In February of this year, it committed W18.4 billion ($17 million) to a W280-billion ($253 million) PE fund raised by Mirae Asset Financial Group.

It also acquired a 2.54 per cent stake in mobile wallet app Balance Hero for W3 billion ($3 million) and a 9.09 per cent stake in Korean video contents maker 72Seconds for W2 billion ($1.8 million).

Also Read:

Sequoia Capital hitting market with six funds, including three China-focused vehicles

SoftBank’s Son to go unicorn hunting as company shifts focus

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.