SE Asia offers targets ripe for SPAC mergers as startups seek capital

Special purpose acquisition corporations, or SPACs, are scouting for potential acquisition targets in Southeast Asia after amassing capital in hordes over the past few months. And the region’s crop of tech unicorns and large startups are presenting as attractive targets.

Global SPACs have raised as much as $24.26 billion in January 2021 alone. The total amount raised by SPACs in 2020 was $79 billion.

Earlier this month, Catcha Group’s SPAC, Catcha Investment Corp, filed to raise $250 million in an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Catcha Investment said it plans to focus on a target with operations in technology or digital media across the Asia Pacific region, with the focus primarily being on Southeast Asia and Australia.

Meanwhile, in January, San Francisco-based tech investment firm Crescent Cove Advisors made headlines when it announced its plans to raise $200 million through a SPAC targeting tech companies in Southeast Asia’s burgeoning startup ecosystem. In the same month, SPAC Provident Acquisition also raised $200 million in a US IPO.

Earlier, Richard Li and Peter Thiel’s Bridgetown Holdings unveiled two SPAC vehicles, raising $595 million for Bridgetown 1 in October, while Bridgetown 2 is still in the process of garnering $200 million.

Even as SPACs have had a patchy track record in the region so far, they are gaining prominence as they offer an alternative listing proposition to startups in addition to the traditional IPO route.

SPACs, also called blank cheque firms, are companies without operations that are formed only to raise capital to acquire other businesses. Merging with a SPAC has become a popular method for closely-held businesses looking for growth capital.

Potential targets to merge with SPACs include Southeast Asia’s unicorns, and soonicorns, whose fundraising opportunities in the private market have narrowed owing to their size, even as their investors are seeking exits.

Expand Table

Company HQ SectorValuation estimate ($ Billion)Disclosed funding ($ Million)
GrabSingaporeDigital payments
Food delivery
Rideshare
15.512100
GojekIndonesiaDigital payments
Food delivery
Rideshare
10.55000
TokopediaIndonesiaE-commerce7.52800
TravelokaIndonesiaTravel Tech31200
Grab FinancialSingaporeFinancial Services3300
OVOIndonesiaFinancial services2.9Unknown
BukalapakIndonesiaE-commerce2.5150
VNGVietnamDigital Payments2.20.5
TraxSingaporeSaaS1.3386.9
Circles.LifeSingaporeTelecommunicationUndisclosed50
GoPayIndonesiaDigital Payments1+300
JustCoSingaporeReal Estate Tech186.4
VNPAYVietnamDigital Payments1300
ZilingoSingaporeE-commerceAround 1307.9
ONE ChampionshipSingaporeMedia (Livestreaming)Around 1275.3
PropertyGuruSingaporeReal Estate TechAround 1561
J&T ExpressSingaporeLogisticsAround 1600
Flash ExpressThailandLogisticsAround 1400
aCommerceThailandE-commerceAround 1140
CarousellSingaporeEcommerce0.9177.9
Prestige BiopharmaSingaporeBiopharmaceuticals0.9533
99.coSingaporeReal Estate TechUndisclosed33.1
NinjaVanSingaporeLogistics0.8196.5
SiCepat EkspresIndonesiaLogistics0.7103.5
BiofourmisSingapore/BostonHealthtech0.5143.6
M-DAQSingaporeFinancial services0.598.7
Voyager InnovationsPhillipinesDigital PaymentsUndisclosed335
CarroSingaporeE-commerce0.379
CarsomeMalaysiaE-commerce0.332
Qoo10SingaporeE-commerceUndisclosedUndisclosed

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.