S Korea’s STIC Investments eyes larger SE Asia play with Grab funding

South Korean private equity firm STIC Investments is looking to ramp up its exposure to Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing market with an investment in ride-hailing giant Grab.

Bloomberg on Monday reported the Seoul-based PE firm’s plans to invest about $200 million in Grab. It plans to invest $100 million from one of its funds and raise the remaining from other co-investors, the report said.

STIC is one of South Korea’s leading private equity players with about $4.5 billion in assets under management, according to its website.

One source familiar with the deal told DealStreetAsia that STIC had been considering a stake in Grab since the latter began fundraising for its Series H round about 18 months ago. Sensing an opportunity to tap a ready capital base, the Southeast Asian firm too actively marketed itself to investors in South Korea.

Grab was last reported by DealStreetAsia to also be in talks to raise a loan or bond facility of up to $500 million to finance its operations.

Grab, whose core ride-hailing business has been severely impacted by the onslaught of COVID-19, has been actively re-directing its focus to the better performing parts of its business such as food delivery and payments in recent months.

The SoftBank-backed decacorn’s last disclosed fundraise was an $856 million round from Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (MUFG) and IT services firm TIS Inc to accelerate its expansion in financial services.

Tapping Southeast Asia

STIC’s conversations about investing in Grab are indicative of its interest to do more deals in Southeast Asia. The firm is understood to be primarily focused on 10 per cent stake or board seat/voting control power deals in this region.

Three months ago, the PE firm appointed Jason Cho, a Singapore-based managing director who will oversee pan-Asia private equity and special situations, to oversee its expansion. The firm currently has a small presence in Vietnam and Indonesia, having backed companies such as Vietnamese e-commerce firm Tiki via its venture arm STIC Ventures. According to its website, STIC Ventures manages three venture funds amounting to 326.8 billion Korean won ($270 million).

STIC Investments is not the only South Korean company eyeing a larger exposure to Southeast Asia of late.

Last month, e-commerce titan Coupang was reported to be snapping up the software of Hooq Digital, a Southeast Asian video streaming service that recently filed for liquidation.

Separately, South Korea’s largest food delivery player Woowa Brothers also announced a $5.4 billion strategic merger with Delivery Hero last December, which will see both firms set up a joint venture arm in Singapore to expand its food delivery empire in the region. The deal is pending regulatory approval and is set to be finalised in the second half of this year.

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.