Editor’s take: The week that was — April 5-10

Unicorns from the region – both old and freshly minted – grabbed headlines this week.

We start with the much-anticipated deal between Indonesia’s two most valuable startups. Gojek and Tokopedia have sought approval from their respective shareholders to seal a merger deal after both companies’ boards gave the green light for the transaction. Once shareholder approval is obtained, the two companies will move to complete the transaction in a matter of weeks.

A deal between super app Gojek, valued at $10.5 billion, and e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia, valued at $7.5 billion, would be by far the largest M&A deal ever to be seen in Indonesia’s tech sector.

Another Indonesian unicorn, Traveloka, is in advanced talks to list in the US through a merger with Bridgetown Holdings Ltd, a SPAC backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel. A SPAC listing at this point when Traveloka’s business has nearly returned to pre-COVID levels could see the company commanding a valuation of around $5 billion. Should it be sealed soon, the deal would make the nine-year-old company the first Southeast Asian unicorn to go public.

Gojek rival Grab, meanwhile, is set for a listing in New York through a merger with a SPAC backed by Altimeter Capital Management, the Financial Times reported. The listing, which will be the biggest SPAC merger so far, could see Grab raising about $2.5 billion through a PIPE deal.

Singapore-based Trax, which offers image recognition solutions for the retail industry, announced its pre-IPO Series E round of $640 million led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and return backer BlackRock. In an interview, Trax co-founder and executive chairman Joel Bar-El said the company is focused on pursuing the traditional IPO route and is seeking to list on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.

Moving on to India, where it rained unicorns this week. Notably, Tiger Global Management has resumed its aggressive pace of dealmaking in India, leading the funding rounds of three of the six startups that bagged the coveted tag this week.

Sample the deal frenzy.

Social commerce platform Meesho raised $300 million in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Its valuation has almost trebled to $2.1 billion from around $700 million in 2019.

Serial entrepreneur Kunal Shah’s fintech startup CRED has secured $215 million as part of its Series D funding round at a post-money valuation of $2.2 billion.

Mohalla Tech, the company behind social media apps Sharechat and Moj, has raised $502 million in its latest funding round led by Lightspeed Ventures and Tiger Global. The new round has pushed Sharechat’s valuation to over $2.1 billion.

API Holdings, the parent company of online pharmacy PharmEasy, has raised $350 million in a Series E funding round led by Prosus Ventures and TPG Growth. PharmEasy’s valuation in the latest round is pegged at $1.5 billion.

Investment platform Groww has raised $83 million as a part of its Series D funding round led by Tiger Global Management at a valuation of more than $1 billion.

Gupshup has raised $100 million from Tiger Global, valuing the messaging services provider at $1.4 billion. The company last raised a funding round about a decade ago.

Fundraising updates

KKR & Co closed its fourth Asia-focused buyout fund at $15 billion, the largest PE fund dedicated to the Asia Pacific region. KKR Asian Fund IV exceeded its $12.5-billion target and surpassed the record $10.6 billion raised by Hillhouse Capital Group for Asia in 2018.

US and Japan-based cross-border VC Sozo Ventures is seeking to raise $500 million for a new fund that will likely continue to make investments in the two countries where it is located.

Texas County & District Retirement System has committed $70 million to three China-focused venture funds.

Healthcare-focused Chinese venture capital firm Long Hill Capital has secured over $300 million for its third USD-denominated fund. The VC had closed its second USD fund at $265 million in 2018.

Singapore’s gaming-focused venture capital firm Play Ventures has raised $135 million for its second fund. Its debut fund closed in 2019 at $40 million.

BlackRock Real Assets has hit the final close of its latest global renewable power fund at $4.8 billion, making it the largest independent climate infrastructure fund globally.

Venture debt provider Alteria Capital has hit the first close of its second fund at $177 million as it looks to ramp up its deployment across early and growth-stage startups in India. Meanwhile, peer Trifecta Capital is launching its first equity fund to target late-stage equity investments in Indian startups.

IFC is considering a $15-million investment in the second impact fund of UOB Venture Management, the PE arm of Singapore-based United Overseas Bank. The fund will invest in companies in China and Southeast Asia.

Malaysian PE firm Creador, which launched its fifth fund last month, is targeting to secure $600 million for its first close, its founder and CEO Brahmal Vasudevan said. Vasudevan now expects the final size of the fund to be at $680 million.

Singapore-based blockchain venture firm Signum Capital has made the first close of its debut MAS-regulated fund at $30 million.

Carlyle Group has hit the market to raise a new Asia-focused fund after collecting $27.5 billion in new capital in 2020.

In other news

Indonesia’s public-listed lender PT Bank Amar Tbk is in advanced talks to raise $80-100 million in a potential strategic partnership deal. Indonesia has seen a flurry of similar deals in the banking space, driven by well-capitalised tech players.

Indonesian B2B commerce company Sinbad is set to close a funding round of about $15-20 million as it seeks to bolster its position in the competitive supply chain business.

Singapore-headquartered insurtech startup CXA Group is looking for buyers for its brokerage businesses in Shanghai and Beijing as the company shifts away from its core operations and cuts considerable headcount, according to founder and CEO Rosaline Chow Koo.

Indian homegrown PE major ChrysCapital has picked up a 27% stake in Gujarat-based drug manufacturer Corona Remedies through a secondary transaction. Following the transaction, Creador has made a full exit with a 3.7x return and an IRR of 32% in USD terms.

IFC has proposed a $200 million investment in Indian solar power developer Thar Surya 1 Pvt Ltd and an investment of $100 million in non-bank financial company Hero FinCorp.

Malaysian social commerce enabler AVANA has signed a joint venture agreement with publicly-listed Taiwanese SME-focused financial institution Chailease to expand its operation into the East Asian country. The JV follows an investment Chailease made in AVANA in late 2019.

From the China desk

Chinese semiconductor firm UNISOC has closed 5.35 billion yuan ($814.6 million) in a new funding round. It aims to file for an initial public offering on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR Market by the end of 2021.

Zhuan Zhuan, an online used goods trading platform affiliated with Chinese online classifieds marketplace 58.com, has secured $390 million in new funding.

Analysis

Thailand, largely seen as an understated market for tech listings compared to its SE Asian peers, is building traction for more domestic market outings on the back of the mega IPO track record last year, a robust pipeline and heightened investor appetite for public offerings. In this story, we explore the potential of the Thai market to support a unicorn IPO.

In Vietnam, telecom majors Viettel, VNPT and MobiFone are gearing up to launch mobile money platforms to expand their operations in the burgeoning e-payment market. These mobile money applications will enable users to access mobile phone credit to pay for small-value goods and services on phones.

Malaysian conglomerate Sunway Group, whose interests span real estate, construction, education, healthcare, retail, and hospitality, is in the midst of bringing about synergies between its various verticals and its relatively nascent corporate venture capital business.

Finally, Southeast Asian startups managed to secure at least $781 million in VC funding in March, up 382% from February, largely on account of two big-ticket deals, according to proprietary data compiled by DealStreetAsia.

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.