Editor’s take: The week that was — May 25-29

The DealStreetAsia logo is pictured at its annual conference in Singapore.

As we usher in a new week, here’s a quick recap of the prominent stories we did over the last few days.

As expected, most of the headlines were dominated by COVID-19, which has prompted businesses and investors to adopt different measures to mitigate its impact. While some are adopting stringent cost-cutting measures, others are scouting for opportunities to tide through the current crisis.

And even as uncertainties galore, it’s definitely not all doom and gloom.

First, the deals

Chinese ride-hailing major Didi Chuxing has raised a whopping $500 million for its autonomous driving unit. The investment led by SoftBank Vision Fund will finance advanced research and development at DiDi’s autonomous driving unit, which still needs to catch up with its domestic counterparts.

In yet another big-ticket transaction in China, smart convenience store operator Bianlifeng raised $100 million in fresh funding. While the identity of the investors in the round and its post-money valuation remain undisclosed, sources told us the latest financing brought the total capital raised by the startup to about $1.5 billion.

In Singapore, fintech startup GoBear bagged $17 million from existing investors. The startup, which started out as an insurance comparison site, plans to use the latest funding from Walvis Participaties and Aegon to rev up its online financial marketplace, digital insurance brokerage and digital lending.

Meanwhile, Vietnam-based venture capital firm FEBE Ventures said it has clocked four new investments following its first deal in Singapore 3D-printed invisible brace startup Zenyum late last year. The VC firm backed Vietnamese fintech startup Nano and proptech company Propzy, Singapore-headquartered logistics startup Janio and Thai SaaS solutions provider Vara.

Singapore’s medtech startup Endofotonics has bagged $8.5 million in a Series B round backed by executives of Singapore Medical Group (SMG). The company said that the fresh funding will be used to drive commercialisation of its early gastric cancer detection system in the Asia-Pacific.

Private equity firm ShawKwei has invested an undisclosed sum in Hong Kong-based skincare packaging firm International Cosmetic Suppliers. The funding will help the company pursue strategic acquisitions in Asia, the US and Europe to further expand its business.

From the India desk

In yet another vote of confidence for billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s digital strategy, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and Microsoft are said to be in separate talks to invest in Jio Platforms. While Microsoft is reportedly negotiating to invest $2 billion in the company, Mubadala is in talks to pump in $1 billion. This is significant as the company has already attracted massive investments worth $10 billion in just a month from investors including Facebook, KKR, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners and General Atlantic.

Alibaba-backed BigBasket is looking to raise up to $200 million in fresh funding. The online grocer is said to have appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to facilitate the deal.

Co-working space operator Awfis has raised $5.3 million from Bisque Limited and Link Investment Trust. The funding has come at a time when the co-working sector in India and across the world is staring at huge losses in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Online retailer Paytm Mall is reportedly in talks to pick up a stake in grocery delivery startup Grofers. SoftBank, an investor in both the companies, is said to be steering the deal talks to pave the way for the latter to deepen its cash runway.

Getting candid 

In an interview with Malaysia’s COPE Private Equity, its founder and managing director Azam Azman the crisis provides an opportunity to access quality deals that may otherwise not be available.

Dubai-headquartered online property classifieds firm EMPG aims to triple its valuation to $3 billion in five years, its CEO said. The target follows a string of strategic deals inked by the newly-minted unicorn, including a $150 million funding led by OLX Group announced last month.

COVID-19 will push Chinese firms to recalibrate their domestic and global ambitions, said Lenovo Capital MD Jeffery Wang. “The good news is that there will be more mergers and acquisitions by large companies who want to build self-sufficient technology stacks,” he said.

Chinese venture capital firm Unity Ventures is expecting to close its first USD fund at $100 million in the second half of 2020 as it foresees heightened investment into early-stage technology startups following Beijing’s listing reforms that will make exits easier for their investors.

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.