Editor's take: The week that was—June 17-22

Editor's take: The week that was—June 17-22

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This week, DealStreetAsia released its latest report, titled SE Asia Tech M&A Review 2024.  

The report showed that Southeast Asia witnessed a notable decline in tech mergers and acquisitions in 2023, following peak activity in 2022. Deal volumes plummeted by over a third as global economic challenges prompted investors to become more selective.

Among the six largest Southeast Asian markets, Indonesia saw the steepest decline (51% year on year) in tech M&A deal volume in 2023, corresponding to a more than 60% annual drop in venture capital funding for two consecutive years.

Scroll down for the other developments of the week.

LP-GP news

Hamilton Lane has raised $5.6 billion for its latest secondary fund, exceeding its initial target. The fundraising, the biggest in the firm’s history, saw strong support from a diverse group of new and existing investors.

General Catalyst, a US-headquartered venture capital firm, has announced its acquisition of early-stage-focused Indian peer Venture Highway, confirming a DealStreetAsia report in January.

Some of China’s wealthy families are turning to Hong Kong as an alternative place to manage their riches as their plans to set up shop in Singapore are slowed by intense scrutiny by the city-state following a massive money laundering bust.

Family offices in the Asia Pacific are recalibrating their investment strategies, with a noticeable uptick in allocations to PE expected during 2024. According to industry experts, this shift is driven by the industry’s maturation, which now offers varied investment opportunities.

Healthcare and life-science investment firm Decheng Capital is looking to raise $700 million for its fifth fund in what could become the firm’s largest vehicle to date, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Washington State Investment Board has approved a $400-million commitment to the latest climate-focused impact fund of global alternative asset manager TPG. The investment is for TPG Rise Climate II, which is expected to pursue buyout, growth equity, and late-stage venture investments with a focus on climate solutions and carbon reduction.

Kuala Lumpur-based Maybank Asset Management has launched the MAMG Premium Brands Fund to invest in a vehicle managed by Swiss investment firm Pictet Asset Management.

Lok Capital, a nascent new energy asset management platform in China, has announced the first close of its maiden fund, for which it targets to raise 2 billion yuan ($275.6 million) in total.

Arrowpoint Investment Partners, one of Asia’s largest hedge fund launches this year, has secured an investment from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and a unit of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.

Global private investment firm Partners Group has opened an office in Hong Kong in a bid to expand its private wealth client base in Greater China.

India’s Speciale Invest, a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on deep science and enterprise technologies, expects to launch its third flagship fund this year with a marginally bigger corpus than its $38 million predecessor.

Deal updates

In a big-ticket investment in the digital infrastructure space in Southeast Asia, a consortium of PE major KKR and Singtel will invest S$1.75 billion ($1.3 billion) in Singapore-headquartered ST Telemedia Global Data Centres.

A consortium led by Canadian asset manager Brookfield has agreed to invest in Dubai-based GEMS Education. The other investors in the consortium include Gulf Islamic Investments, Marathon Asset Management, and the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Southeast Asia’s biggest gummy candy maker, Yupi Indo Jelly Gum, has roped in US investment bank Jefferies to explore options, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Bahrain-based alternative asset manager Investcorp is set to acquire a majority stake in Indonesian ice cream maker Campina.

PE firms A91 Partners and Motilal Oswal Alternates have joined ChrysCapital in the race to pick up a stake in India’s Healthkart as its existing investor, Peak XV Partners, looks to exit the Temasek-backed health supplement startup.

Zepto has raised $665 million in a funding round, which values the Indian quick commerce company at $3.6 billion, as it looks to double its store count amid rising competition and amp up its plans to go public by 2025.

Singapore-based car marketplace and lender Carro has secured a S$75-million ($55.4 million) multi-currency loan from HSBC for its fintech arm, Genie Financial Services.

Norwegian development finance institution Norfund will invest $30 million in Vietnam-based Southeast Asia Commercial Bank (SeABank) through a convertible loan. The loan can be converted into the lender’s common shares within a four-year term.

Gurugram-based Ummeed Housing Finance has raised $76 million in funding from A91 Partners, Mirae Asset Venture Investments (India), Anicut Capital and existing investor Norwest Venture Partners. The development was first reported by DealStreetAsia in February.

Shell has agreed to buy Singaporean LNG company Pavilion Energy from global investment company Temasek in a move the oil major said will strengthen its leadership position in LNG.

Vodafone Group will sell about 10% stake in India’s Indus Towers for as much as $1.1 billion, per a term sheet seen by Reuters, as a part of the British firm’s efforts to repay debt.

French industrial group Seche Environnement has agreed to buy Singapore’s ECO Industrial Environmental Engineering for around S$605 million ($447.4 million), according to an announcement.

Tokyo-headquartered expert knowledge-sharing platform Arches, which focuses on Southeast Asia, has raised $3 million in funding, while Filipino fintech startup BayaniPay has secured fresh funds.

Youibot Robotics, a Chinese developer of autonomous mobile robots and automation solutions, has closed its Series C funding round as the startup plans to invest 1.4 billion yuan (about $193 million) in setting up new headquarters and manufacturing facilities.

Zomato is in talks to buy Paytm’s movies and events business as the food delivery platform attempts to beef up its ‘going out’ business. No binding decision has been taken at this stage, Zomato said in a regulatory filing. A potential deal could value the business at around Rs 1,600-1,750 crore, The Economic Times reported.

Online comics platform Webtoon Entertainment is targeting a valuation of up to $2.67 billion in its initial public offering (IPO) in the US. The company, majority-owned by South Korean tech giant Naver, is aiming to raise as much as $315 million by offering 15 million shares at a price range of $18 to $21 each.

Global nonprofit Accion has made a $17.5-million equity investment in Indonesian microfinance tech company Amartha from its Accion Digital Transformation Fund. The fund aims to invest in 10-12 companies in emerging markets, with Asia being the primary focus.

Singapore-based fund manager SC Oscar has announced its acquisition of Ranui Generation Limited, a New Zealand-headquartered renewable energy developer, for an undisclosed amount.

Hong Kong-based cross-border e-commerce shipping startup Buyandship has announced raising an additional $6 million in Series B funding, bringing the total raised in the round to $16 million.

Chinese surgical robot developer Ronovo Surgical has secured 300 million yuan ($41.3 million) in a Series B financing round co-led by state-owned Wuxi Guolian Group.

SoftBank-backed edtech startup Unacademy, which has been under pressure to turn profitable, is in talks to merge with K12 Techno, which runs the chain of Orchids International Schools, Entrackr reported.

Genspark, an artificial intelligence search startup founded by former Baidu executives, has raised $60 million in seed funding as it joins a series of challengers to take on Google’s dominance in the search market.

LeeKr Technology has pocketed 1 billion yuan ($137.8 million) in a Series C funding round to fuel its global expansion.

Chinese green energy company United Hydrogen Group will be listing its shares on the Nasdaq via a blank-cheque merger that values the company at $1.6 billion.

Vietnam’s first unicorn VNG Corporation might consider listing on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HoSE) in the near future, its founder and CEO Le Hong Minh said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare, one of the largest hospital groups in Asia, is looking at opportunities for entering Indonesia and Vietnam through acquisitions as its existing markets become more saturated, its chief executive said.

GalaxyBot, an embodied artificial intelligence startup in China, has closed an angel round worth 700 million yuan ($96.4 million) just 12 months after its inception.

Warburg Pincus-backed Indian education loan financier Avanse Financial Services has filed draft papers with the country’s markets regulator for an IPO worth 35 billion rupees ($419 million).

Earnings & analyses

Singapore-based digital bank GXS, backed by a consortium of Grab Holdings and Singtel, recorded a 59% jump in losses for the financial year ended December 31, 2023, despite a 6x increase in net interest income, regulatory filings showed.

US-based contract lifecycle management provider SirionLabs’s losses nearly doubled in the financial year 2023 as soaring expenses offset a surge in revenue. For the year ended March 31, 2023, the firm reported a total comprehensive loss attributable to equity shareholders of $36.2 million, compared with $19.3 million in the previous fiscal.

Singapore-based global employment platform Multiplier reported a 3.5x surge in losses during the financial year ended March 31, 2023, even as it posted an eightfold increase in revenue for the year, shows its unaudited financial statement.

While an ageing population is seen burdening Southeast Asian economies, which have enjoyed the demographic advantage over the years, it has also opened up new vistas for investment in geriatric care.

The ongoing Sino-US geopolitical tensions have complicated Middle East-based sovereign funds’ deployment in China, Ben Harburg, managing partner at MSA Capital, a Beijing-based investment firm backed by Saudi Arabian investors, told DealStreetAsia in an interview.

E-wallets in Vietnam witnessed explosive growth from 2018-2023 thanks to the government’s push to promote non-cash payments. However, the standalone e-wallet model – focused solely on payment and money transfer services – is facing a testing period with the emergence of VietQR and the expanding capabilities of mobile banking apps.

China’s major cross-border e-commerce players have been rolling out a new business model that could help merchants deliver goods faster and boost sales, as the platforms explore ways to attract more international suppliers amid greater regulatory scrutiny and fierce competition.

Chinese-owned pesticides and seeds giant Syngenta Group had spent three years talking a big game about an imminent IPO. Then on March 29, news broke that it had quietly shelved plans to list. Confirmation from the group came shortly after. The decision to pull what was slated to be a 65-billion-yuan ($8.96 billion) float was made after “careful consideration of industry environment and the company’s own development strategy,” Syngenta said in a statement.

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