Editor’s take: The week that was — Sept 6-11

A major rumble in Southeast Asia’s private markets this week was caused by the news that Indonesian unicorn Traveloka has decided not to pursue its merger with Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel’s SPAC.

Talks to list in the US via a merger with blank-cheque firm Bridgetown Holdings have been suspended, and instead, Traveloka is expected to head down the traditional route of an initial public offering. It remains uncertain why the deal fell through, but Traveloka may reportedly be open to revisiting the SPAC route.

The development comes amid waning enthusiasm for SPACs in the US. After soaring up to the beginning of this year, the number of SPAC stock listings has fallen off a cliff. The IPOX SPAC index, which tracks the aftermarket performance of the SPACs, has fallen nearly 30% from the peak in the first quarter of the year.

Even so, Singapore is set for its first wave of SPAC listings, following the market regulator’s green light last week.

The Singapore Exchange is said to be seeking an ‘anchor investor’ to start the ball rolling, and sources tell DealStreetAsia that Singapore state investor Temasek is set to be tasked with the role.

A number of other investors are said to be already lining up to sponsor their own blank-cheque vehicles, including Vertex Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek; and French asset manager Tikehau Capital.

Meanwhile, Singapore private equity firm Novo Tellus Capital Partners told DealStreetAsia it is aiming to list its $150 million SPAC on the Singapore Exchange by early next year. A Novo Tellus SPAC merger will be differentiated from the others on the market, the firm’s co-founder and managing partner Loke Wai San asserted.

Giants’ deals 

Indian online car marketplace Cars24 raised nearly $260 million, from investors including DST Global. The funding, part of a targeted $350 million Series F round, comes after a Series E round late last year that secured its valuation at unicorn level.

Meanwhile, the country’s most valuable startup, edtech company Byju’s, raised another $150 million as part of its ongoing Series F round. Investors include Mirae Asset.

In Indonesia, the biggest tech group GoTo is extending its pre-IPO fundraising, even as it is understood to be already oversubscribed.

The reason for this, sources tell DealStreetAsia, is that GoTo is yet to finalise the divestment of payments startup OVO, before its reported dual-listing in the US and Indonesia, next year.

In Singapore, AI startup ADVANCE.AI is reportedly well on its way to joining the unicorn club, as it is set to raise some $200 million from investors including private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

Another private equity major, Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA), has invested in Singapore-based video game developer Virtuos Holdings.

The startup announced it bagged $150 million in funding and BPEA will be the largest external shareholder in the company.

Indeed, Singapore-registered startups raised more than $150 million in investments last week, according to data compiled by DealStreetAsia – DATA VANTAGE.

ICYMI

Here’s a rundown of the other top fundraising deals we reported this week.

KKR & Co’s second healthcare growth fund has secured $30 million from Cathay Life Insurance.

SIRCLO, an Indonesian e-commerce enabler, bagged $36 million in a funding round led by East Ventures (Growth Fund) and PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya. Other investors include Traveloka and Sinar Mas Land.

Separately, Indonesia-focused VC firm Intudo Ventures raised $115 million for its third fund, from investors including the family offices of former Walgreens CEO Gregory Wasson, and Singapore corporate leader-turned-investor Koh Boon Hwee.

DealStreetAsia has learnt that Alibaba has invested in Vietnamese food chain Homefarm via its eWTP Technology and Innovation Fund. The amount was undisclosed.

Around the same time, eWTP also topped up $10 million into Ficus Asia Investment, a Vietnamese retail company, following a $50 million injection last year.

What to watch out for

ESOPs, or Employee Stock Option Plans, are becoming de rigueur as Southeast Asia’s biggest tech companies compete for talent, and as the upcoming mega listings could ostensibly mean a windfall for tech workers with stakes in their employers.

Sea Group, the most famous tech export out of Southeast Asia, and Singapore, in recent times, has raised an eye-popping $6.3 billion. What are its plans for the war chest?

The buy now, pay later (BNPL) model is gaining traction in Vietnam, as our team tracking deals observes.

Separately, this analysis explores how Vietnamese e-commerce startups are adapting to a protracted pandemic as the country hunkers down against the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

And in China, regulation is closing in on yet another industry – wealth management.

Regulators have also reportedly suspended approval for all new online games, after calling executives at gaming companies, including Tencent Holdings and NetEase, to Beijing.

Meanwhile, Tencent-backed Ximalaya shelved plans for an IPO in the US, purportedly after pressure from Beijing. The online audio platform’s decision follows that of Chinese medical data group LinkDoc Technology’s move to shelve its US IPO in July.

And regulators in Southeast Asia, perhaps starting with Singapore, could soon pay more attention to the sprawling gig economy, putting on alert the ride-hailing and delivery platforms that depend on these gig workers.

People moves and other developments

GIC private equity executive Amit Kunal is leaving the Singapore sovereign wealth fund to set up his own fund. We understand that Kunal is expecting to raise as much as $750 million for his debut fund.

InnoVen Capital’s head of Southeast Asia, Chin Chao, is leaving after nearly six years with the venture debt firm.

Swiss bank UBS is understood to be appointing tech banker Warren Wu to lead TMT (technology, media, and telecommunications) for Southeast Asia and India. The bank is believed to be levelling up against the competition in the new economy fundraising and M&A deals.

For more insights into what the top private equity and venture capital dealmakers are looking at, join us at our upcoming Asia PE-VC Summit 2021.

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.