Philippines: Ayala launches $150m VC fund targeting tech innovations

Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala. Photo from company's Facebook page.

Philippine-listed conglomerate Ayala Corporation and its subsidiares are raising a new venture capital fund that will invest globally in new technologies, particularly in e-commerce, fintech, and healthtech, Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said.

“We will be bolder and more deliberate in our venture capital strategy, seeding new ideas and disruptive businesses, and supporting forward-thinking entrepreneurs with scalable, innovative models,” Zobel de Ayala said at his speech during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting.

Ayala chief finance officer Jose Teodoro Limcaoco said in a press briefing following the annual stockholders’ meeting that the $150-million fund, probably the largest fund of its kind in the Philippines, will be invested over the next five years.

Ayala, its subsidiaries – Ayala Land Inc, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Globe Telecom Inc, and AC Energy – and other selected investors have committed to raise the fund, which will be managed by Kickstart Ventures Inc.

“We formulated a plan to establish a group-wide corporate venture capital entity where we are trying to raise $150 million of new money from within Ayala Corp. and its business units supported by the CEOs and by the board of the different units,” Limcaoco said.

He said the group hopes to raise the amount by the middle of the year.

Zobel de Ayala said the group was undergoing a massive transformation to aggressively expand the digitalization of its companies.

“We recognize that to continue thriving under a rapidly changing environment, we must evolve from traditional analog thinking into incorporating a digital perspective into our strategy and operations,” he said.

Ayala Corporation has started to participate in businesses that are part of the current digital wave – e-commerce, fintech, and healthtech – and Zobel de Ayala said the company’s investments are designed to complement the group’s traditional brick-and-mortar operations, future-proof its existing portfolio, and broaden the digital experience of Filipinos.

“We will continuously look for ways to disrupt and digitally transform our core businesses to ensure that our companies remain relevant to our partners and stakeholders in this environment that is quickly being redefined by technology,” he said.

The fund will be managed by Kickstart Ventures, a venture capital firm of Globe Telecom, which is a joint venture between Ayala and Singapore Telecommunications.

Minette Navarrete, Kickstart Ventures vice-chairman and president, confirmed Ayala’s $150-million fresh capital for early-stage tech startups that will be deployed globally.

Navarette told reporters they plan to issue check sizes anywhere from $2 million to $10 million, in exchange for an equity investment in the startup.

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