Editor’s take: The week that was — June 15-19

News over the past week suggests that funds are loading up on dry powder as investment opportunities begin to emerge from markets loosening COVID-19 restrictions and good companies need help to tide over the pandemic.

Investment platform Xen Capital told DealStreetAsia that its customer base of family offices and high net worth individuals are flush with deployable capital, and that investment activity should pick up in the second half of the year.

US-based private equity firm Adams Street Partners is targeting up to $350 million for its Asia fund-of-funds, while Singapore-based venture firm BEENEXT has raised $160 million for two new funds.

Private equity investor Affirma Capital is planning to launch an emerging Asia fund in 2021.

Picky capital

There are opportunities showing up. The unexpected pandemic has derailed plans for many companies, and that has driven up the number of bridge rounds being done.

Vietnam, the first country in Southeast Asia to lift COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, is seeing renewed enthusiasm among private equity investors. And if you haven’t already heard, podcast platforms are all the rage now.

But capital is also highly selective at the moment. Boutique investment firm SAIL Ventures, for instance, is extending capital raising for its private credit fund by two years.

Some of that caution can also be seen in the China venture space. DealStreetAsia data showed that Chinese startups raised almost $3.9 billion in May 2020. That was 6.2 per cent higher than April, but the number of deals fell by two-fifths to 73 from April’s 120. That suggests more money going toward larger, safer bets. Indeed, megadeals such as biotech startup MGI Tech‘s $1 billion Series B round dominated deal activity.

Hard decisions

The layoffs continue at the region’s high-profile startup and tech companies.

ONE Championship let go of 20 per cent of its staff as it secured $70 million in funding, believed to be in the form of convertible debt. It might be convenient to blame the pandemic, but the mixed martial arts promoter was already burning through its cash pile before the virus struck.

Ride-hailing super app Grab has laid off about 360 employees, which is less than 5 per cent of its total workforce. Chief executive Anthony Tan said that the company expected a prolonged recession, but also asserted that the retrenchments would be “the last organisation-wide layoff this year.”

Many of these companies, which were among the most successful fundraisers before the pandemic, have had to adjust to a reality where growth did not come as planned.

In a webinar organised by DealStreetAsia, Oyo Hotels founder and chief executive Ritesh Agarwal said the hospitality startup is now focusing on mending relations with hotel partners and prioritising India and Southeast Asia in the wake of its own pandemic-triggered downsizing. OYO, however, has a $1 billion war chest and the means to stay afloat for more than three years, Agarwal said.

Time to deal

Traveloka, Indonesia’s travel booking unicorn, is near a deal to raise more than $100 million in fresh funding from existing investors, DealStreetAsia has learned.

A KKR-led consortium that includes Singapore government-owned investment firm Temasek, is taking a 6 per cent stake in Vinhomes for $650 million. Vinhomes is the housing development arm of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup.

Indonesian online furniture retailer Fabelio has raised $9 million as part of its ongoing Series C round led by Taiwanese venture firm AppWorks, Telkom Group-backed MDI Ventures and Endeavour Catalyst.

Daiwa PI Partners is putting $8 million into Vietnamese cinema operator Beta Media, while Quest Ventures led a $5 million round for cloud karaoke startup Popsical.

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.