Editor’s take: The week that was – May 18-22

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Reliance Jio headquarters is seen on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Clara Ferreira Marques/File Photo

We are back with our weekly recap of big scoops, analytical pieces and top events from the deal-making world. The COVID-19 situation continues to loom large five months into the year.

Let’s dive into our scoop of the week, first.

Private equity veteran Ravi Thakran may be on his way out from consumer-focused private equity firm L Catterton Asia. Several other top executives have left the PE firm over the last few months. L Catterton Asia has stakes in consumer lifestyle brands across Asia, including Melbourne’s athletic apparel brand 2XU, Taiwanese skincare brand Dr. Wu, and Singapore’s Crystal Jade restaurant chain.

The big news stories

Reliance Industries’ Jio Platforms continues to rope in marquee investors. KKR & Co announced this week that it will invest $1.5 billion in the digital firm, marking its biggest investment in Asia to date. The round brings the total funds raised by Jio Platforms to $10 billion. Its other recent investors are General Atlantic, Silver Lake and Vista Equity Partners.

In what could be a major consolidation in the Vietnamese e-commerce space, JD.com-backed Tiki and SoftBank Ventures Asia-backed Sendo are said to have agreed to merge their businesses in an all-stock deal.

Indonesian logistics startup Shipper is said to have raised up to $20 million in its Series A round from South Africa-headquartered global internet group Naspers and existing investors. The fresh funding comes at a time when the COVID-19 crisis has crippled several industries.

Fundraising milestones in the time of COVID-19

Abu Dhabi’s ADQ has launched a new venture capital fund with a corpus of nearly $300 million to invest in early-stage businesses in India and Southeast Asia. The fund will be managed by New York-headquartered Falcon Edge Capital.

IFC is considering a proposal to invest $10 million in the second fund of early-stage venture capital firm Endiya Partners, which focuses on Indian tech startups.

Private equity giant KKR has raised an additional $161.55 million for its fourth Asia-focused buyout fund, according to a regulatory filing. The buyout firm is seeking to raise $12.5 billion for its fourth fund targeting Asia.

North Asia-focused private equity firm MBK Partners has closed its fifth buyout fund at its $6.5 billion hard cap. Its four predecessor funds had raised a total of $10.5 billion.

Mid-stage, tech-focused venture capital fund Iron Pillar has raised $45 million as a top-up to its $90 million first fund. The new corpus will help the VC firm back portfolio companies that are doing well in current market conditions.

Glory Ventures, a Shanghai-based venture capital firm that invests in China and Israel, has hit the final close of its third RMB-denominated fund at 682 million yuan ($96 million) and held the first close of its $100 million second US dollar fund.

Cathay Life Insurance, a subsidiary of Taiwanese financial services group Cathay Financial Holdings, has approved a commitment of $100 million to the sixth flagship fund of private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

Chinese alternative investment specialist CDH Investments announced that its venture and growth capital unit has raked in about $824 million for an RMB fund and a USD fund.

Foundation PE, an Asia-focused secondaries investor, is understood to have held the first close of its $250-million debut fund targeting China, India and Southeast Asia.

Silicon Valley VC firm 500 Startups‘s Southeast Asia arm is raising $75 million for its third vehicle after it closed its second fund at around $51-52 million late last year.

From Greater China

Fitness app Keep has become the country’s first sports tech unicorn after raising an $80 million Series E funding round led by growth-stage investor Jeneration Capital Management.

JD MRO, a subsidiary of JD.com, has secured $230 million in a Series A round led by global venture capital firm GGV Capital. The round was joined by Sequoia Capital China and CPE.

Chinese AI-enabled intelligent car-wash service Yigongli completed a Series C funding round at $84 million.

For a more comprehensive tracking of prominent VC transactions, don’t miss our weekly deal monitors from China and India.

From Southeast Asia

DEG, the investment arm of German state-owned development bank KFW, has extended a $12.2 million loan to finance the expansion plans of Asia Royal, a private hospital in Myanmar.

Chinese tycoon Jack Ma’s Ant Financial has announced plans to invest $73.5 million in Myanmar’s fintech startup Wave Money in return for a significant minority stake.

After backing four Vietnamese startups through its $10-million debut vehicle, South Korea’s Smilegate Investment is planning to launch a second country-focused fund this year.

Malaysia-based private eyecare chain Vista Eye Specialist is said to be looking at raising $20-30 million to finance its expansion plans that include acquisition of local clinics. The shareholders are looking to dilute their ownership by up to 49 per cent.

The big picture

We bring you this long-form story on how the COVID-19 pandemic-led layoffs have exposed the fault lines between employee expectations and the reality of Asian startups. As the virus crisis has been driving startups to reduce staff, the terms of disengagement have become a highly contentious issue.

Fresh from a huge $109-million fundraising round led by Sequoia Capital, Indonesian grab-and-go coffee chain Kopi Kenangan co-founder and CEO Edward Tirtanata spoke to us on how a shift in strategy, in response to changes in consumer buying behaviour, has helped the company at a time when the COVID-19 crisis has cast its shadow on the F&B sector.

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.