Japan's SBI Holdings joins Asian partners to launch $75m SE Asia fund

Singapore. Photo: Unsplash

Japanese financial services conglomerate SBI Holdings has launched a $75 million digital innovation fund in partnership with others to invest in early-stage companies in Southeast Asia.

SBI Ven Capital (SBIVC), the venture capital arm of SBI, will manage the fund in partnership with Kyobo Securities, the securities brokerage arm of South Korea’s Kyobo Life Insurance Group, and NTUitive, the innovation and enterprise company of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

SBI expects a final close of the fund in Q3 next year.

The investment vehicle seeks to invest in digital technology and digital platform companies at the pre-series A and Series A stages. It looks to combine operational expertise, regional go-to-market connections and industry network of the three general partners to help startups in the region with monetising their digitalised transaction data.

Having been operating in Southeast Asia for over 15 years, SBI sees the region’s rapid adoption of technology, rising middle class and growing internet economy presents a large opportunity to unlock $220 to $625 billion of economic potential by 2030. Southeast Asia is expected to experience a 22.7% year-on-year growth in digital transformation until 2025, according to the Japanese conglomerate.

“This partnership will create a strong ecosystem of companies across the digital sector. We aim to address gaps such as lack of access to digital services and market inefficiencies, to ensure the growth and prosperity of the digital economy in Southeast Asia and South Asia,” said Ryosuke Hayashi, managing director and CEO at SBIVC.

SBI Holdings’ Southeast Asia investments include Tokopedia, NIUM, Sendo, Investree and Mfine. The firm currently manages over $5.69 billion in assets.

Meanwhile, Kyobo Securities said it had a strong commitment to expanding its footprint in the Southeast Asia and South Asia markets. “We aim to leverage the strong growth potential and constantly invest on behalf of Kyobo Life Insurance Group to benefit the digital economy in the region,” said Hee Jin Shin, director and head of venture capital at Kyobo Securities.

NTUitive will leverage its expertise and network to support the new fund in accessing and evaluating promising startups, and offering access to financing networks.

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