Category: Investment

Navis to raise up to US$2 billion in eighth fund

Southeast Asia’s leading PE firm Navis Capital Partners is set to launch its eighth fund in 2018. The vehicle will be significantly larger than the firm’s current fund Navis VII worth US$1.5 billion.

According to Navis, its seventh fund is currently in its third and final year at 70 percent drawn – a stage where most PE players have started to actively plan their new successor fund.

But so far no plans have been finalized for the size or timing of a successor fund, though the firm is said to be looking to raise up to US$2 billion for its next fund.

As an investor with a large presence in Southeast Asia and Australia, Navis focuses on building a portfolio related to food processing, restaurant dining, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods, outdoor advertising, auto rentals, consultancy, healthcare, and professional business services.

The Kuala Lumpur-based firm has invested in Chinese restaurant chain Imperial Treasure, Indonesian medical equipment distributor Tawada Healthcare, Vietnam’s Hanoi French Hospital and furniture and lifestyle brand Christian Liaigre, among some.

With Navis VIII, the PE firm plans for smaller investments below US$50 million to further extend its investments into the region. These investments in the range of US$10 million to US$50 million, which Venture Capital firms often find too big and Private Equity players find too small, can work to fill the requirements for certain players.

The firm’s exits for this year include the divestment of its controlling stake in retail apparel South Africa’s The Foschini Group to Australia’s Retail Apparel Group (RAG) in a deal worth US$225 million. The firm also sold its interest in Guardian Early Learning Group, a child care business operating a network of 71 child care centers across Australia, to funds managed and advised by Partners Group.

Navis Partners Capital currently manages several private and public equity funds totaling to US$5 billion in equity capital and has made more than 70 controlling investments since its inception.

It has one of the largest private equity professional teams in Asia, consisting over 60 individuals and supported by over 30 administrative staff in eight offices across the region.

Katrina enters JV with Ajisen China to expand So Pho brand in China, Hong Kong

Singapore’s food and beverage company Katrina Group announced today that it has entered into a subscription and shareholder’s agreement with Big Benefit Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ajisen (China) Holdings.

The deal will see Katrina holding a 30 percent stake in the joint-venture company which manages and operates snack bars, cafes, restaurants and other food services serving Vietnamese-style dishes under the brand – So Pho in Hong Kong and China.

Alan Goh, the Founder, CEO and Executive Chairman of Katrina said, “We are excited to partner Ajisen China, which is one of the largest and most successful restaurant chains in China. This collaboration will extend our geographical reach in China and help us enter the Hong Kong market.”

“It is a bold step in the right direction in further strengthening Katrina as a regional F&B group. We look forward to a long-lasting partnership with Ajisen China and further opportunities to come,” he added.

HKEX-listed Ajisen China is one of the leading restaurant chain operators with a retail network of close to 700 restaurants in 120 cities and 30 provinces in China and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Katrina Group is a food and beverage business specializing in multi-cuisine concepts and restaurant operations. It owns and operates 33 restaurants in Singapore under nine different brands including Bali Thai and Streats.

In terms of funding, Katrina and Ajisen China will provide a working capital for So Pho International of up to US$450,000 and US$1.05 million respectively, through interest-free shareholder’s loan.

Katrina will also trademark So Pho International as a sole and exclusive right to use, sub-license and franchise the trade name of “So Pho” and associated logos, designs and trade names in mainland China.

Wai Poon, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Ajisen China said, “We are glad that this collaboration has come to fruition. With our strong track record and Katrina’s brand development capabilities, we look forward to growing the “So Pho” brand in China and Hong Kong to build mutual success for both Ajisen China and Katrina.”

IFC commits up to US$25 million in North Haven Thai Private Equity

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group is making an equity investment up to US$25 million in North Haven Thai Private Equity L.P.

IFC said the private equity fund is looking to raise up to US$300 million in total commitments, and the company will not hold more than 20 percent of the Thai investment vehicle.

Managed by Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia Inc, North Haven Thai Private Equity is a newly-formed PE fund with an initial 10-year term.

The fund targets mid-market companies with significant operations in Thailand and is jointly led by two co-heads Eric Ma and Chong Toh.

Last October, Morgan Stanley’s North Haven Private Equity Asia Angel made its first Thai investment by acquiring a 25.63 percent stake in baby-and-adult diaper maker DSG International.

“We believe that the Thai market overall is one of the most attractive markets with positive long-term potential,” said Kingsley Chan, the managing director of Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia.

Darma Tech Labs, operator behind Makers Boot Camp accelerator to launch US$17.5 million investment fund with Kyoto Bank

Darma Tech Labs, the Kyoto-based operator behind the Makers Boot Camp (MBC) hardware startup-focused accelerator, announced on Tuesday that it is forming an investment fund worth 2 billion yen (about US$18 million) with Kyoto Bank as an anchor limited partner.

The fund is known as MBC Shisaku No. 1 Investment LP and its redemption period extends through a period of 10 years. The fund will mainly support the trial production and investment of domestic and international IoT startups as they did in the accelerator program Makers Boot Camp which has supported the trial production of IoT startup Monozukuri.

Additionally, the fund will intensively invest in early stage hardware startups in Japan, North America, and Europe. While looking at priority investment areas including IoT, robotics, sensing, networking, big data analysis, medical devices, nursing care, lifestyle, environment, and energy.

The Makers Boot Camp, previously being initiated in August 2015 by Darma Tech Labs in cooperation with Shimogyoku-based Kyoto Prototype Net has previously aided the prototyping efforts in more than 10 startups including wearable AI Bonbouton, smart digital window Atmoph, and e-money reader Coban, among some.

Along with the formation of this fund, Mikuni Kimura, the former chief investment officer for Future Venture Capital and the certified public accountant, Manabu Kuwahara will participate as managing directors at Darma Tech Labs.

At the same time, the company will also expand their alliance partnership with New York-based FabFoundry, in addition to appointing CEO Nobuhiro Seki as a director of Darma Tech Labs, in order to prepare for investments in startups which are centered on the East coast of New York, Boston, Pittsburgh etc.

Ultimately, this fund will also serve as a further investment to strengthen and accelerate the growth of Kyoto as a manufacturing city of IoT.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

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, 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

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