Category: Enterprise

Equis to sell entire stake in green energy platform Energon, exit from India

Renewable energy developer and infrastructure investor Equis Energy is looking to sell its entire India portfolio after a strategic review of its renewable energy portfolio in Asia.

The portfolio is made of two green energy platform, Energon and Energon Soleq, which amounts to almost a gigawatt of wind and solar energy installations.

Energon has 414 megawatts of operating assets which focus on wind power projects, while Energon Soleq works in the solar sector and is developing projects totaling 260 megawatts in Telangana and Karnataka.

Besides, Equis Energy has another 300 megawatts of capacity under development which is also up for sale.

“Equis Fund has put up Energon and Energon Soleq for sale. It is seeing a lot of interest. The exercise is underway as part of their Asia portfolio strategy with them planning to run an auction process,” said a source from Livemint who requested anonymity.

Another source confirmed the development and also adds that there are several firms who expressed interest in Equis’ assets.

The plan to sell is a result of the growing consolidation in India’s green energy sector as well as the declining energy tariffs which bring a concern to the uphold of electricity offtake commitments.

Established in 2012, Equis Energy has 4.7 gigawatts of renewable energy generation assets across Asia-Pacific, with an additional 6.3 gigawatts under development in Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The clean energy firm has earlier appointed Credit Suisse (Singapore) Limited and JP Morgan (SEA) Limited to conduct its strategic review, with a particular focus on its renewable energy portfolio in mid-April.

David Russell, the board chairman of Equis said, “Equis is considering a restructuring of its entire renewable energy business with long-term investors looking to support management’s growth strategy. The process involves a 100% restructuring of Equis Energy.”

Baidu said to make US$100 million investment in Chinese electric car startup NextEV

Chinese Internet firm Baidu Inc. reportedly plans to invest US$100 million in smart electric vehicle technology maker NextEV as part of a Series C funding. Details of the deal have not been made public.

Baidu is now betting big on artificial intelligence to spur its future development. As the alliance is an effort intended to boost Baidu’s faltering autonomous driving business that has been witnessing falling profits.

Previously, the internet giant has set up an Institute of Deep learning in 2013, marking the beginnings of its research and development on unmanned driving technology.

However, Baidu has failed to yield concrete results despite its tie-ups with car makers such as BMW and Chery Automobile over the past three years. The exit of its core team members including senior vice president Wang Jin, who was in charge of the autonomous car division, worsened the already muddy prospects.

As the first company tapping into unmanned vehicles in China, Baidu claims that it has no intention to build cars but instead will focus on unmanned driving technology-related software, providing sensor modules and self-driving car brain to its partners. The collaboration with NextEV is in line with such strategy.

It recently established a business unit to focus on self-driving technology and appointed its newly hired chief operation officer Lu Qi as the head of the unit, signaling the importance Baidu is placing on the sector.

Founded in 2014 by Chinese automobile web portal Bitauto’s chairman William Li, NextEV is committed to the research, development, and production of high-performance electric sports cars. The Shanghai-headquartered company has offices in Europe and the United States, with more than 2,500 employees around the world. Last year, it launched the first electric car – the NIO EP9 in London.

The super racing car EP9 was said to be the world’s fastest electric car and the company plans to produce only six vehicles for some of the company’s early backers, including company founder Li, Tencent founder Pony Ma, Xiaomi founder Lei Jun, JD.com founder Liu Qiangdong and two others.

Prior to this, the electric vehicle startup has raised more than US$600 million via three funding rounds since June 2015, having backed by top global investors including Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, private equity giant TPG, China’s Lenovo Group and Sequoia Capital among some.

Following this tie-up with Baidu, NextEV would be able to utilize Baidu’s autonomous driving technology in its mass market electric vehicles. In the near future, the startup plans to launch a mass market electric vehicle priced at about half of Tesla’s Model S, which will start it at RMB620,000 (about US$90,000) in China.

As electric vehicles and unmanned driving technologies have been changing industry rules and profit distribution patterns in the automobile manufacturing sector, an increasing number of startups are joining the commercially viable market said to worth US$87 billion by 2030, according to research and advisory firm Lux Research.

By Vivian Foo, Next Unicorn

IFM Investors to acquire minority stakes in Australian fashion handbag and accessories retailer Colette by Colette Hayman

IFM Investors‘ private equity arm has recently invested an undisclosed sum for a minority stake in Colette by Colette Hayman, a leading fashion handbags and accessories retailer based in Australia.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but IFM Investors Executive Director Stuart Wardman-Browne announced that IFM’s partnership with the company’s founders and senior management would help the business continue its growth path.

“We are excited to partner with Colette as it seeks to further expand in Australia and offshore. With the strong experience of its leadership team, niche value proposition, on-trend products and proven retail nous, we believe Colette is well positioned to execute on its next phase of growth,” Wardman-Browne said.

Founded in 2010 by Mark and Colette Hayman, Collete by Collete Hayman has grown to a network of over 130 company-owned stores across Australia and New Zealand as well as several franchise locations across South Africa and the Middle East.

“We feel there are opportunities to add stores to that footprint both here and in New Zealand,” Mr. Wardman-Browne said. “They’ve been quite successful in a refit program in a number of stores which has helped them increase sales.”

Owned by 28 super funds including the country’s biggest funds AustralianSuper, IFM Investors has a well-established presence in private equity and provides institutional investors with a flexible and transparent platform to access private equity investments.

Its private equity model benefits investee companies through an openness to taking minority or majority stakes, flexible investment horizons, and the ability to continue committing follow-on capital as required for growth.

“This transaction is a perfect example of how our private equity approach can benefit companies through long-term investment coupled with a partnership-style approach including pro-active support on strategic initiatives to help the continued growth of the business,” said Wardman-Browne. “It also benefits our investors as they have greater involvement in, and transparency of, their private equity investment.”

As an investor-owned global fund manager, IFM Investors has A$75 billion under management. IFM Investors’ private equity team seeks to invest in growing businesses in Australia and New Zealand with a value of between $50 million to $300 million. This transaction follows the acquisition of 50 per cent of leading contractor group ISGM in June.

Commenting on the investment, Mark Hayman, the CEO of Colette by Colette Hayman said, “The partnership with IFM represents an exciting development for us as we embark on our next phase of growth in Australasia and internationally. We look forward to working closely with IFM to realise our vision for the Colette by Colette Hayman brand.”

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Korean ST Unitas to acquire the Princeton Review

ST Unitas, Korea’s largest operator of private learning institutes on February 14 announced that it has acquired the Princeton Review, a major U.S. education service firm, as its first step toward becoming a global powerhouse in the expanding online-based exam preparation market.

“We are happy to announce that ST Unitas and the Princeton Review have become one family,” said Yoon Sung-Hyuk, ST Unitas’s CEO. “We will together build a global education platform that offers innovative, information-technology based, tailored services to our users across the globe.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed though predicaments according to investment bank analysts states that ST Unitas would have to pay about 100 billion won (US$87 million) to acquire the Massachusets-based platform.

Founded in April 2010, ST Unitas is the first in the industry to develop scientific studying methods based on big data from 60 subsidiary brands which are ranked number one in their respective division including Engdangi (English cram school) and Gongdangi (Civil Service Exam cram school), which utilize IT in education.

The education firm offers English, Chinese, and other foreign language courses as well as various civil-service tests in addition to a range of lectures which are available both online and offline. Consequently, ST Unitas reached over 1200 employees and annual sales of $350 million (400 billion won) in 2016.

The Princeton Review, founded in 1981, is a college admission services company offering test preparation services, tutoring, and admissions resources, online courses, and books. Besides the United States, it has sent more than 1.5 million students to elite colleges in 20 countries.

“We believe that now is the right time for us to enter the United States, the world’s largest education market. The U.S. online education industry has been expanding rapidly over the past five years,” Yoon said. “Given that the majority of IT platforms that dominate the global market, such as Facebook and Uber, were born in the United States, we decided to create our platform in the world’s largest economy. This is another reason why we decided to acquire The Princeton Review.”

Following this acquisition, the CEO said ST Unitas will take advantage of the U.S. education service firm’s vast database, its extensive overseas network as well as its knowhows on the scholastic aptitude test (SAT) and other standardised U.S. exams to become a leader in the $250 billion online education market.

“We have been successful in Korea because we work hard to offer top-quality education materials to our customers at affordable prices,” Yoon said. “What we would like to do is take this business model in cooperation with The Princeton Review to the United States and other countries. I have no doubt ST Unitas will become a top global education platform provider.”

The Princeton Review CEO Kate Walker said that in cooperation with ST Unitas, the company will continue to expand its market share and secure technology leadership in the rapidly growing online education market.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Mobvista secures US$100 million credit facility from Bank of China

China’s mobile marketing platform Mobvista Co. Ltd. has on Wednesday, obtained a credit facility worth nearly US$100 million from Bank of China, which marks the largest credit facility ever granted by a bank in the mobile marketing industry in China.

“For an asset-light Internet company, the trust behind the strategic cooperation with Bank of China wasn’t easy to build,” said Mobvista’s Founder and CEO Wei Duan. “The credit facility represents not only Bank of China’s recognition of Mobvista’s past performance, but also its confidence on Mobvista’s future.”

Established in 2013, Mobvista is an Asian mobile marketing platform that focuses on providing user acquisition and traffic monetization services to mobile app developers across the world. On November 2015, the company completed its listing on China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), raising an amount of nearly US$1 billion.

Mobvista is also recognized by TUNE as the “Top 25 Mobile Advertising Partner Report for 2016“, having targeted traffic from 243 countries and regions with a daily amount reaching over 10 billion. Prior to this, the company which houses 500 employees in 12 offices spread across the world is backed by NetEase (Hong Kong) Ltd., Midas Capital, Shanghai Media Group, Haitong Securities and China Securities,

In May 2016, the company raised nearly US$80 million via its first private placement deal to finance acquisitions, buying U.S. advertising company NativeX and European mobile game analytics platform GameAnalytics for an undisclosed amount in February and July last year.

“Across the world, over 80% Internet users are connected via smartphones and the rapid growth mobile Internet over the past three years offers historic opportunities to global mobile marketing industry. This credit facility from Bank of China will further help us accelerate expansion in overseas markets,” said Wei Duan

Mobvista’s revenue reached US$118.174 million while its net profit reached US$11.525 million for the six months ended on August 31, 2016, according to disclosure filings, in which has allowed it to maintain its No.1 position in the mobile marketing industry.

Providing financial services in China and 46 other countries and regions, Bank of China within the three years period from 2012 to 2015, has increased its overseas assets by 54.06% and continued to diversify, strongly supporting its cross-border M&As and M&A financing and loan businesses in the trend to internationalise.

“Mobile marketing is an emerging industry with great momentum. Today’s credit facility is based on the recognition to the mobile marketing industry, which is in line with Bank of China’s commitment to an efficient and professional partner addressing all demands of small and medium businesses,” said a spokesperson from the Bank of China.

Bank of China is Mobvista’s largest bank partner in 2016 looking at the perspectives of RMB deposit and loans, USD loans, as well as cross-border settlement. With the support from Guangdong Branch of Bank of China, Mobvista has built a connection with Bank of China’s branches in Seoul, Brussels, Hong Kong, New York and Chicago.

From Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Scroll to top