Issue 32

Malaysian job search portal WOBB bags $1.3m pre-Series A funding

Malaysia-based job search portal WOBB on Monday announced raising 5.4 million ringgit ($1.3 million) in a pre-Series A round from CAC Capital, Accord Ventures and Actcelerate International Group Ltd (AIG). 

The funding round was arranged by Cradle Fund. The startup told us that it will start raising its Series A next year. WOBB, which targets Generation Y and Z job seekers, was founded in 2014. It claims that over 1.3 million job applications have been made through its platform. 

It uses matching algorithms and AI chatbots for screening, “making it better and faster” for job seekers and employers to find each other. WOBB also partners with LinkedIn in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. The startup plans to use the fresh capital used to accelerate its growth as it plans to “dominate Gen Y hiring in Asia”. 

“WOBB provides a means for companies to communicate their value… in a new perspective to Gen Y,” said Tokyo-based CAC Capital president and CEO Takuya Maeda, who added that he expects the startup to continue to gain traction across Southeast Asia. WOBB founder and CEO Derek Toh said the startup’s vision is to be the largest youth platform in Asia. 

WOBB is a recipient of Cradle Fund’s CIP150, CIP500 grants as well as a DEQ equity funding. It also raised 1.7 million ringgit ($410,000) in 2017 from an equity crowdfunding campaign.


From – Deal Street Asia


Southeast Asian actor Ashraf Sinclair departs 500 Startups

British-Malaysian actor Ashraf Sinclair has departed early-stage venture capital firm 500 Startups two years after joining it as a venture partner. 

“Over 2 years ago, Ashraf signed on as a venture partner, which is a part-time role to assist in investing and managing select Indonesian portfolio companies. We’ve had a marvelous two years and many adventures together, which is way more than what we can ask for from a part-time role,” Ashraf Sinclair and 500 Startups managing partner for Southeast Asia Khailee Ng said in a joint statement. 

“As his roster of personal projects is developing, he is now dedicating his full-time effort to nurture them. We’re so grateful and happy about his next chapter. In the meantime, our team continues to expand and we’ve multiple open positions in the region, and have much in store for our investing activity in Indonesia,” the statement said. 

Ashraf, who is a well-known actor in Malaysia and Indonesia, was appointed as a venture partner in May 2017 and was responsible for deploying capital from the firm’s 500 Durians Funds II into Indonesian startups. 

Ashraf told DealStreetAsia that he will continue to be an angel investor, with a focus on startups in the area of sustainability. He runs numerous businesses, including restaurants, gyms and production houses. In Southeast Asia, 500 Startups last closed its Vietnam fund at $14 million, surpassing an original target of $10 million, in November 2018. Its portfolio companies in the region include Grab, Bukalapak, Fabelio and Alodokter.

From – Deal Street Asia

Thailand’s Central Group plans IPO of department store unit

Central Group, Thailand’s largest mall operator, said on Wednesday it would list its Central Retail Corporation unit, which will combine retail businesses in Thailand, Vietnam and Italy. 

“We are reaching customers in new ways through physical and digital platforms,” Central Group President Yol Phokasub said in a statement. 

“The platforms are especially focused on personalisation, based on data from our 27 million customers worldwide.” Central, owned by the billionaire Chirativat family, has nearly 2,000 stores in Thailand, 134 in Vietnam, and nine in Italy under the Rinascente brand. 

The plan for listing comes amid intense competition among retailers and online shopping. Last year, rival Siam Piwat opened a billion-dollar luxury shopping mall, while the Mall Group also plans a new $300 million entertainment and retail complex. 

Central’s online strategy has been patchy with the acquisition of Zalora Thailand, a $500 million joint-venture with China’s, a $200 investment in the Thai unit of Singapore-based ride-hailing firm Grab. 

Sales are also under pressure as e-commerce gains popularity in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, with Alibaba’s Lazada and Tencent-backed Shopee battling for market share. As part of the share sale, Central will delist another retail subsidiary, Robinson Pcl , where it holds a majority stake, with a tender offer for the newly issued shares with no cash alternative.

From – Deal Street Asia

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala may invest up to $25b in SoftBank Vision Fund 2: Report

Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company may invest as much as $25 billion in SoftBank Group Corp.’s second Vision Fund, according to a report by Wall Street Journal. The $227-billion Mubadala is an existing investor in the Vision Fund, having committed $15 billion to the first fund. 

Two weeks ago, SoftBank announced it has gathered some $108 billion for Vision Fund 2. It had signed memoranda of understanding with 12 investors including the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan, Microsoft Corp and Japan’s three mega banks, as well as existing Vision Fund backers Apple Inc and Foxconn. 

SoftBank itself is committing $38 billion into the fund, replacing Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) as the largest investor. The latter, who committed $45 billion in the first Vision Fund, is not planning to invest as much in Vision Fund 2. 

According to the WSJ report, some investors of Vision Fund 2 are planning to make the bulk of the funding commitments via some form of debt. The first Vision Fund had set a precedent in this, as it uses preferred shares that offer a fixed return of 7 per cent. 

SoftBank is said to be banking on contributions from potential investors beyond the 12 named entities – those that are not listed in its public statements – and that the figure could include debt or debt-like securities. The 12 investors listed by SoftBank may not able to contribute more than a few tens of billions of dollars. 

Citing a Nikkei report, WSJ said several Japanese participants of Vision Fund 2 were investing in the millions, not billions of dollars. SoftBank launched its first Vision Fund in October 2016 with huge commitments from both PIF and Mubadala Fund, although these two investors were not publicly disclosed as backers for Vision Fund 2. 

In June, SoftBank disclosed the first Vision Fund has earned 62 per cent returns so far after making 71 investments for a total of $64.2 billion. But some investors are skeptical whether SoftBank can continue to deliver returns over the fund’s 12-year life span as much of those returns are on paper – which will remain unrealised until the portfolio companies are exited.

From – Deal Street Asia

Chinese investment bank AMTD raises $174m in US IPO

Hong Kong-based financial services firm and investment bank AMTD International has raised $174 million in its initial public offering (IPO) in the US, according to its latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. 

AMTD, which claims to be one of the largest Hong Kong-based financial institutions, priced 20.6 million American depositary shares (ADSs) at $8.38 each. It will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol HKIB. 

The company said it will use the proceeds of its IPO to invest in business and infrastructure expansion, fund potential acquisitions, and for general corporate purposes. The company’s expansion plans include setting up new subsidiaries, acquiring new talent, and applying for new business licences in other jurisdictions. 

AMTD, which was founded in 2003, offers investment banking services, including equity underwriting, debt underwriting, advisory (on credit rating, financing, and mergers and acquisitions transactions), securities brokerage, institutional sales and distribution, and research, among others. It booked $155 million in revenue for the 12 months ended March 31, 2019 and assets under management of $2.6 billion. 

It also posted net profit of $67 million in 2018. The company is 95.3 per cent owned and controlled by AMTD Group, which was founded by CK Hutchison Holding Limited. According to a CIC report cited by the company, AMTD ranked first among all independent investment banking firms in Asia as measured by both the number and the aggregate offering size of Hong Kong and US IPOs completed in 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. 

“We are one of the few financial institutions with extensive financial industry knowledge and experience across Greater China that is majority-owned and managed by local Hong Kong entrepreneurs and professionals,” the company said in its SEC filing. 

This genuine “Hong Kong-owned” identity, according to AMTD, positions the firm to play an instrumental role in connecting local clients from Hong Kong and China with global capital markets. AMTD International joined several Chinese companies that have filed to list in the US, even as China has been trying to woo firms to list domestically. 

In July, Beijing-based online consumer lender 9F has filed to raise $150 million in an IPO in the US, partly to finance its expansion in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. 

DouYu International Holdings, a Chinese video-game live-streaming platform, is also seeking to raise as much as $944 million. Early this month, I-Mab Biopharma Co, a Chinese drug developer, has filed confidentially for a US IPO as the company works on a private fundraising, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

From – Deal Street Asia
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