Editor’s take: The week that was – August 5-9

Let’s kick off this weekly wrap-up with the latest from the private equity world. First, fundraising news.

Singapore-based private equity firm Northstar Group plans to hit the market later this year for its fifth fund. The fund, which is likely to raise between $800 million and $900 million, will have a primary focus on investments in Indonesia, with a secondary focus on other Southeast Asian markets such as Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand.

CITIC Capital, the flagship alternative investment arm of Chinese financial conglomerate CITIC Group, has raised $2.8 billion for its fourth China buyout fund, its biggest PE vehicle to date. The fund will seek control-investment opportunities with a China angle across sectors, including consumer, healthcare and technology.

PE firms eye exits 

Southeast Asia-focused Navis Capital Partners is looking to exit its investment in Vietnam’s Hanoi French Hospital (HFH). Internal preparations for the exit have begun and the PE firm has started sending out feelers to potential buyers.

Falcon House Partners is in talks to sell its existing stake in Indonesia’s lifestyle and hospitality brand Potato Head Family. The PE firm currently holds a 35 per cent stake in the company, which runs beach clubs and hotel chains in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali and Jakarta.

People moves 

Consumer-focused private equity firm L Catterton announced the appointment of former Khazanah Nasional Bhd executive Chinta Bhagat as a co-managing partner and head of Asia funds, confirming an earlier DealStreetAsia story.

LP commitments 

Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) disclosed a commitment of up to $300 million to Warburg Pincus‘s China-Southeast Asia-focused private equity fund, which closed in June at over $4.25 billion.

The Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS), one of the largest pension funds in the US, has committed a total of $125 million to two separate Asia-focused funds. This includes a $100-million commitment to Hong Kong-based PAG’s second real estate vehicle.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) disclosed a $20-million commitment to Hong Kong-based NewQuest Capital Partners’ latest Asia secondaries fund.

Startups on the prowl

Fresh after raising its $100-million Series D round last month, Singapore-headquartered artificial intelligence (AI) startup Near is on the hunt for acquisitions in the US, its founder and CEO Anil Mathews told us in an interview.

Indonesia’s ride-hailing and payments unicorn GOJEK is set to acquire local mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) startup Moka in a deal likely to be worth over $100 million, Sarah and Ardi reported.

Funding news

Carro, a Singapore-based automotive marketplace, announced this week the close of its Series B funding round at $90 million. After securing $60 million for the round last year, it raised an additional $30 million from SoftBank Ventures Asia, EDBI, Dietrich Foundation and NCORE Ventures. The announcement confirmed a March report by DealStreetAsia.

Singapore-based grocery and food delivery startup Honestbee said its existing investors have expressed interest in investing up to $30 million in the embattled company, the Business Times reported this week.

Indonesia’s Mekari, which was formed after the merger of four SME-focused SaaS startups, has raised Series A funding from investors including East VenturesMandiri Capital Indonesia and Money Forward Japan.

Indonesian beauty e-commerce and social platform Sociolla is set to announce a fresh funding round co-led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and venture capital fund EV Growth. 

SE Asia sees tech investments spike in H1

According to data from Cento Ventures, the first half of this year saw at least 332 tech investments across Southeast Asia, up from 183 deals in the second half of 2018 and 177 in the first half. The surge in deal volume was helped by a spike in early-stage deals, which meant total deal value in H1 at $5.99 billion was lower than $8.31 billion during the same period last year.

From the VC world

Mandiri Capital Indonesia, the country’s first CVC backed by a bank, is venturing beyond fintech with its upcoming fund. The new vehicle, which is set to be closed in Q4 this year, will be its first to tap external investors and is expected to seek up to $100 million.

Pandan Ventures, a newly-formed VC firm in Singapore, is in talks with at least two general partners (GPs) to join its first early-stage tech fund, an evergreen vehicle with a mandate to invest in European, Israeli and American startups seeking expansion in Asia.

M&A news

Thailand’s TMB BankThanachart Capital (TCAP) and Scotia Netherlands Holding (BNS) have approved the $4.6-billion merger of TMB Bank and Thanachart Bank (TBANK). The combined entity will have total assets of about 1.9 trillion baht and will be the sixth-largest lender in Thailand.

Thailand-based Indorama Ventures will be acquiring the chemical intermediates businesses of US-listed Huntsman Corporation in a nearly $2.1-billion deal. The transaction includes $2 billion in cash and $76 million in net underfunded pension,

Weekend reading 

This story from Nikkei Asian Review explores the global ambitions of China’s AI unicorn SenseTime, whose technology is used by the government for its extensive surveillance, and the risk it runs of meeting the same fate as Huawei, given its ties with Beijing.