Category: Press

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.

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.”

Chinese children’s stories startup Kaishu Story tells a US$13 million funding tale

Children’s storytelling startup Kaishu Story, otherwise known as Kaishu Jianggushi in Chinese has raised RMB 90 million (about US$13 million) for its Series B funding round.

New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc., one of the largest private educational services in China led the investment.

The round also saw the participation from Chinese growth capital firm Trustbridge Partners, Shanghai-listed Zhejiang Daily Digital Culture Group and iResearch Capital.

Kaishu Story was launched by former CCTV host Wang Kai and represents a children’s content brand focusing on children’s stories, with additional products such as audio series and online parenting courses.

To date, the platform has expanded to a total of 2,033 audiobooks which amounts to 23,363 minutes played over 1.5 billion times. Some of the titles include “Kaishu’s Journey to the West”, “Little Prince”, and “Kaishu’s 365 nights”, to name a few.

The startup claims that it has six million users on its content platform through a WeChat public account, a mobile app and audio shows. It targets to generate the revenue of RMB200 million (about US$29 million) in 2017.

Kaishu will use the latest capital to build a national children’s brand, investing in a wider range of product development related to children’s content and moving on to the parenting industry.

“We are making memories, memories of the people,” said Wang Kai. “We hope that through us, every little kid from the age of two can start building on happy childhood memories.”

This funding round comes in lieu with the emergence of a new generation of content and knowledge-sharing platforms in China that have sparked investor enthusiasm.

In January, Q&A knowledge sharing platform Zhihu has raised US$100 million in a Series D round. While Shanghai Bajiulin, a new media and knowledge sharing startup founded by well-known Chinese financial writer Wu Xiaobo also raised RMB 160 million (about US$23 million) in the same month.

MVCA joins ASEAN Venture Council to bolster growth in regional VC industry

Malaysia Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (MVCA) has joined forces with ASEAN Venture Council (AVC) to become part of a larger regional network.

The agreement was signed between MVCA Chairman Shahril Anwar Mohd Yunos and AVC representative Dr. Jeffrey Chi at the ASEAN Venture Summit in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Following the deal, AVC will now consist of 4 participating VC associations on board. That is apart from MVCA, this includes Asosiasi Modal Ventura Untuk Startup Indonesia (Amvesindo), Thai Venture Capital Association, and Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association.

Through linking the four national bodies together, AVC is intended to facilitate greater knowledge sharing and collaboration among venture capital firms and early-stage businesses throughout the region, in addition to closing more deals.

On top of that, Malaysia’s participation also comes at a time when their regional venture investments have more than doubled from US$1.3 billion in 2015 to more than US$3 billion in 2016.

Speaking of the deal, MVCA Chairman Shahril Anwar Mohd Yunos said, “the inclusion of MVCA will open up communications with Limited Partners, General Partners, and entrepreneurs across respective countries and provide an effective platform for fundraising, investment syndication, and exit opportunities.”

Established in September 2016, ASEAN Venture Council was initially set up by the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association with the purpose of creating a coalition to bolster inter-country relations.

It is intended to drive the development of the venture capital industry in a more concerted effort across the region leveraging on each other’s strengths and capabilities – particularly in the areas of events, advocacy, research, education, and deal flow.

Jefri Sirait, the Chairman of Amvesindo explained that “the growth of AVC translates to wider coverage and opportunities for potential deal flows.”

With the addition of MVCA as a new member country, this will strengthen the collaboration between national associations as they leverage on each other’s individual capabilities, synergies, and best practices, which in turn will support the regional entrepreneurial and financial ecosystem across the ASEAN region.

By Vivian Foo, Next Unicorn

Jollibee gains control over SuperFoods Group ahead of Vietnam IPO

Philippine’s homegrown fast food giant Jollibee Foods Corp (JFC) said on Thursday that its subsidiary JSF Investments Pte. Ltd has hiked its stakes in SuperFoods Group to 60 percent.

The 10 percent increase from its previous 50-50 ownership share comes from its partner in the joint venture, Viet Thai International Joint Stock Co. (VTI).

This move lies in line with the agreement dated back on November 18, 2016, which will allow JFC to include the joint venture in its financial consolidation and in turn facilitate the listing of SuperFoods Group on Vietnam’s equities market by July 2019.

“To help fund the SuperFoods’ expansion plans, Jollibee Foods Corporation will henceforth take the lead in the capital raising activities of the joint venture and will work with various financial institutions in Vietnam and other parts of Asia in this undertaking,” Jollibee said in a statement.

SuperFoods is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jollibee’s JSF Investments Pte Ltd (JSF), and Viet Thai International Joint Stock Co. (VTI) with most of its businesses in Vietnam.

The SuperFoods Group owns and operates the brands Highlands Coffee and Vietnamese noodle house Pho 24, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe franchise shops in Vietnam, Macau, and Hong Kong. At the end of March, these three brands amount for a total of 216 stores with its presence across 17 countries outside the Philippines, including Indonesia, Cambodia, and Australia.

In the next three years, the SuperFoods Group plans to open another 485 stores, mostly in Vietnam, while expanding the brands through franchising in other parts of Asia and in Australia. The company also plans to enter Malaysia as part of its expansion in Southeast Asia.

JFC plans to build a significant business in Vietnam given its potential to become a large consumer market. Like the Philippines, Vietnam has a high population at 95 million and has enjoyed robust economic growth, which reached a 6.2 percent growth last year.

The SuperFoods joint venture is one of its fastest-growing businesses, with its sales reaching US$58 million in 2016, that is up to 46 percent from the prior year, driven by the 73 percent expansion of the Highlands Coffee.

JFC operates the largest foodservice network in the Philippines. At the end of March, it had 2,684 restaurant outlets under the brands Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Burger King, and Mang Inasal. Abroad, it operated 620 restaurants including the brands Yonghe King, Hong Zhuang Yuan, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

JFC maintains interest in joint ventures operating 611 stores worldwide. Aside from its interest in SuperFoods, it also has 40 percent ownership of US chain Smashburger and 48 percent of 12 Hotpot.

By Vivian Foo, VCNewsNetwork

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