SE Asia sees record deal volume in H1, transaction value drops: Cento report

Deal activity hit a new high of 393 investments across Southeast Asia in the first half of 2021, an increase from 327 in the same period in 2020 and 375 in 2019.

However, in terms of transaction value, the total capital invested in startups fell to $4.4 billion in the first half compared to $6.4 billion and $5.8 billion in the corresponding period in 2019 and 2020  respectively, according to Cento Ventures’ Southeast Asia Tech Investment – 2021 H1 report.

The decline in deal value is largely attributed to the absence of mega-deals from super apps such as Grab that is currently seeking to go public. Deals exceeding $100 million accounted for only 45% of the investment, significantly below the 50%-70% concentration in the past years.

Bukalapak and GoJek (prior to GoTo’s merger) each bagged deals worth a few hundreds of millions. However, other unicorns did not announce any significant equity round.

On the other hand, deals under $100 million grew, reaching a record of $2.4 billion. This indicates that interest in Southeast Asia’s tech economy remains strong. A quick comparison with other regions of emerging technology shows that Southeast Asia attracted more capital than Latin America, but less than India.

Deal sizes and valuations saw a sharp upturn in the first half of 2021. Median round sizes rose, with Pre-A rounds of $0.8 million, Series A rounds of $4.3 million, and Series B of $10 million.

Investment surged across most sectors with financial services and business automation receiving record capital injection. The retail and business automation sector has already surpassed their 2020 investment amounts, while financial services have grown to more than twice their 2020 amount.

Indonesia remains the primary destination for investment with companies such as Bukalapak, GoJek, Sicepat, and Ajaib attracting a significant flow of capital. Indonesian startups grabbed nearly 51% of the capital invested in the region.

Singapore’s investment allocation is driven by the Carro deal, followed by a long-tail of $10-50 million deals. Both Singapore and Indonesia accounted for 70% of the total number of deals.

Meanwhile, the Philippines gained a greater share of capital during this period with deals such as Gcash, Great Deals eCommerce, Kumu, and GrowSari accounting for about 9% of total capital raised in the region in H1 2021, up from 2% in H1 2020.

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.