Editor’s take: The week that was – July 1-6

We begin our weekly roundup with the private equity exclusives from the team this week.

Malaysia-based PE firm Creador has gathered $565 million for its fourth fund, exceeding a $550-million hard cap, Kay reported this week. This is the firm’s largest fund to date.

M&A specialist Deviana reported that Indonesia-focused PE firm Capsquare Asia Partners is exploring a so-called dual-track sale process for restaurant chain operator PT Champ Resto Indonesia, which runs 220 restaurants across the archipelago.

Australia-listed Newcrest Mining is seeking a buyer for a 26% stake in Indonesia-based gold mining company Nusa Halmahera Mineral (NHM). The foreign miner is not ruling out the option of selling its entire 75% holding in the local firm if it were to find the right buyer.

Asia rises to the fore 

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC is hoping to tide over a challenging investment climate by sharpening its focus on alternative assets and homing in on the Asia growth story.

European buyout major EQT is eyeing a larger presence in the Asia Pacific, which currently accounts for 16.1% of its portfolio, its CEO said this week.

Big deals 

In the largest insurance M&A deal in Southeast Asia, Siam Commercial Bank announced the sale of its life assurance business to Hong Kong-based FWD Group for 92.7 billion baht ($3 billion). SCB is Thailand’s largest lender by assets.

CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest real estate firms, plans to merge Ascott Reit and Ascendas Hospitality Trust to create Asia Pacific’s largest hospitality trust with an asset value of $5.6 billion. Activist fund Quarz Capital Management had been pushing for the merger to boost shareholder value and avoid potential conflicts after a deal in January effectively made CapitaLand the owner of the managers of the two Reits.

China’s Centurium Capital, co-founded by former Warbus Pincus Asia Pacific chief David Li, raised over $2 billion for its debut fund from GICTemasek and other investors.

In unicorn land

Grab on Friday announced a new unspecified investment from consumer credit giant Experian as part of its ongoing Series H funding round, a week after a $300-million financing by US-based investment manager Invesco. Of course, that puts no pressure on rival GOJEK, which has been awfully quiet on its own funding front. 

In Vietnam, two government agencies continue to debate if the Grab-Uber deal violated the country’s antitrust laws. Yes, that is more than one whole year after the deal was announced. The drama is far from over as one has appealed a decision by the other on the matter.

Indonesian unicorn Bukalapak is counting on international expansion to offset the slowing e-commerce growth back home, its co-founder and president Fajrin Rasyid told Kristie.

Putting those SoftBank dollars to work, Indian unicorn OYO announced plans to invest $50 million in Vietnam after expanding to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The stakes have thus been raised in the fight between RedDoorz, which emphasises its focus on only Southeast Asia as an advantage, and OYO, which is spreading its tentacles everywhere, raising concerns that it might be spreading itself too thin.

A story from the Times of India this week said that OYO has incorporated a clause in its charter that restricts SoftBank, which currently owns 46% of the unicorn, from upping its stake beyond 50%.

Perhaps therein lies a lesson for Indian ride-hailing unicorn Ola, which has had a love-hate relationship with Masayoshi Son‘s mammoth investment vehicle. Its arm, Ola Electric Mobility, this week secured $250 million in funding from SoftBank Vision Fund, suggesting the warring parties may have reached truce for now.

Ola also made headlines after bagging a taxi licence in London, where it is set to emerge as the real threat to Uber, according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley analysts.

The battle is far from over in Indonesia’s payments market

After multiple delays, state-owned e-wallet platform LinkAja officially launched its services in Jakarta this week. Backed by six state-owned firms, it is hoping to take on the two dominant players in the market – GOJEK‘s Go-Pay and Grab-backed Ovo.

There is another player that feels that payments is not a two-horse race in Indonesia. Ant Financial-backed payments platform DANA believes it can yet carve out its space in the market and is counting on expansion in rural Indonesia to do so.

Interviews this week

There is one differentiator that sets apart Indonesia’s Kopi Kenangan, which recently bagged $20 million in funding from Sequoia India, from China’s Luckin Coffee, its co-founder and CEO ED Tirtanata told Ardi. Unlike its larger rival, it is profitable.

The latest to join the ride-hailing bandwagon in Southeast Asia is Vietnam’s Viettel Post, an arm of Vietnam’s largest telecom firm Viettel Group. In an interview, its CEO said that the firm’s entry in the local ride-hailing does not come too late and that it is eyeing profitability within two years, riding on its existing presence across the country.