Singapore-listed lender United Overseas Bank (UOB) and local venture firm Signum Capital have teamed up to launch a $50-million blockchain fund, according to several people close to the development.
The fund will be a co-general partner (GP) vehicle between both firms and is understood to have already hit its first close comprising over 50% of the $50-million target corpus. The fund is on track to hit its final close by the end of this year, according to one of the people mentioned above.
DealStreetAsia has reached out to UOB for comment. Signum Capital declined to comment on this story.
UOB currently conducts private equity or venture-style investments via UOB Venture Management (UOBVM), which oversees a portfolio of $1.4 billion across its China-ASEAN Investment Funds and Asian Impact Funds, as of December 2020. Some of UOBVM’s portfolio investments include Indonesian ride-hailing mammoth Gojek and Thai remittance startup Lightnet.
Signum Capital, on the other hand, is led by John Ng Pangilinan, who is linked to the family behind Singapore-listed real estate giant Far East Group. The firm started as Pengilinan’s personal investment holding company and is understood to have been investing independently in cryptocurrencies and blockchain since 2017. According to its website, Signum has a realised internal rate of return (IRR) of 122% from several exits it has made since then.
DealStreetAsia last reported in April that Signum was raising a $30-million MAS-regulated fund, which had attracted a bevy of Asian limited partners (LPs) to its roster. These included Chatchaval Jiaravanon of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), Kingston Kwek, son of City Developments Limited (CDL) founder Kwek Leng Beng; a family member of Singapore instant beverage maker Super Group; and Indonesian family offices in mining, textiles and shipping sectors.
The appetite for crypto investments has been growing in Singapore among multiple high-profile investors. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC recently invested in BC Group, the Hong Kong-based parent of crypto exchange OSL. And, Temasek-backed Vertex Ventures is an investor in Singapore-based crypto firms Binance Asia and Coinomo.
The Singapore government, on its part, has been fostering a business-friendly regulatory environment for crypto firms. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), for instance, requires big crypto groups to possess a license to operate in the country.
These firms, however, may get license exemptions while they wait for their applications to be finalised. This has led to a massive flocking of license applicants and crypto talent, who view the Asian city-state as a haven amidst a global clampdown on the asset class.