Category: Investment

Samsung NEXT launches US$150m venture fund targeting AI, VR and IoT startups

Samsung’s investment arm has announced the creation of the Samsung NEXT Fund, a US$150 million venture capital investment fund, aimed to increase Samsung’s global support of early stage startups pursuing advanced software and services innovation.

The Samsung NEXT fund is initially known as the Samsung Global Innovation Center and was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday. Having a Silicon Valley presence since 2013, the Innovation Center runs an accelerator, forms partnerships and make acquisitions and investments in startup focused on software and services.

In addition to capital funding, the Korean consumer tech giant will also provide domain expertise and access to various resources such as office space, equipment, and materials required by Early Stage Startups or tech entrepreneurs. This, in turn, will enable Samsung Next to build upon its multi-stage global innovation platform.

“We see software and services becoming a core part of Samsung Electronics’ DNA, and startups are key to achieving this vision,” said David Eun, president and founder of Samsung NEXT. “Samsung continues to embrace entrepreneurship at all levels and this Fund shows our unwavering commitment to support great startups worldwide.”

In particular, the Fund targets pre-Seed to Series B investments, and is concentrating on virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and other new frontier technologies.

There are ten companies that have previously received capital from the Fund, which include Converge Industries, Dashbot, Entry Point VR, Filament, Intezer, LiquidSky, Otto Radio, 2Sens, SafeDK, and Virtru.

These selections ranging from Dashbot – an user analytics tools for software bots to Entry Point VR – company tools for easy distribution of virtual reality media across multiple devices, signals that NEXT is quite broad with its investments.

“Our investments bring the power of the Samsung platform to startups to accelerate their growth and ultimately their success,” said Brendon Kim, VP and Managing Director of Samsung NEXT Ventures. “The Samsung NEXT Fund expands our global reach and capabilities, while increasing Samsung’s access to more great ideas, products and talent.”

In September 2016, Samsung NEXT launched its newest office in Tel Aviv. making it the fifth for the organization, which currently has teams in Mountain View, New York, San Francisco and Korea. Samsung NEXT also said it will open additional locations in 2017.

“We’re very passionate about partnering with startups and developing meaningful relationships in startup ecosystems around the world,” said Emily Becher, Managing Director of Samsung NEXT Start and head of Samsung NEXT’s international expansion. “We leverage local experts to fuel traction and drive scale for startups right where they are.”

To coincide with Samsung NEXT’s international expansion and launch of the fund, the company has initiated its first major rebrand effort, which includes the renaming of its organization to “Samsung NEXT” and the release of a new logo and website. With the rebrand, the company’s goal is to simplify its identity and clarify its message and mission.At CES 2017 Eureka Park, Samusung NEXT will also be showcasing the founders and watch demos from some of Samsung’s portfolio startups which includes VR animations company Baobab Studios, gloud gaming and company LiquidSky and IoT services company Filament.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Israel’s Yozma Group to invest US$ 41.4 million in Korean biotech startups

Israel’s leading venture capital firm Yozma Group has set out to invest in Korean biotechnology and healthcare startups, making its first overseas investment since its launch in 1993.

This is completed in joint efforts with the Industrial Bank of Korea, Multi Asset Global Investments Co. and Hong Kong’s Yuanta Securities Co. which will create a global partnership fund worth 120 billion won (about US$99.3 million), according to an announcement by state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) on Wednesday.

Among the funds of funds, Yozma Group will invest US$41.4 million in Korean startups through the fund named “Yozma Group – Daesung Private Equity Inc” which will begin from the first half of 2017.

“Korea can be more successful than Israel because of the size of the market and the environment here,” Lee Won Jae, head of the Yozma Froup Korea told The Korea Herald, citing the country’s proximity to key markets Japan and China, highly skilled workforce and large population.

Yozma Group, in March 2016, has opened startup campus in Pangyo, south of Seoul, which is its first official startup campus outside Israel, with an aim to be Asia’s startup hub that will explore and invest in tech companies in other emerging markets in the region.

The Group’s investment size will also be between US$1 to US$6 million with its investments focused on investing early stage startups by taking a minority stake in the companies and assisting the startups throughout their development stage as well as making their debut in overseas market and foreign stock markets such as U.S. Nasdaq.

“A lot of Korean startups are undervalued due to the so-called ‘Korea discount’ or ‘Asia discount,'” Lee said. “But Korea’s bio, healthcare, virtual reality and material sectors, like graphene, are the most promising ones. So, we wanted to give them a global network and take them outside Korea to go to the world. That is our model.”

Yozma Group is an Israeli venture capital with a focus on early stage, early-stage startups and pre-IPO companies. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, it was founded in 1993 by Israel’s government and private investors, including Yigal Erlich, former chief scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Industry, and was privatized four years later.

Since 1993, Yozma Group has made direct investments in over 40 portfolio companies, most of which are local companies in Israel, and are in the tech space related to the field of communications, IT, and medical technologies.

The Israeli venture capital fund’s latest decision to invest in Korean startups marks its first overseas investment. It will support startups in its own technology incubator program for two to three years so that they will be ready to enter global markets and join overseas bourses in countries such as the U.S. and Britain.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Warburg-backed e-Shang Redwood closes US$300 million investment in run up to IPO

A consortium of mainland China investors has invested US$300 million in Warburg Pincus-backed Asian logistics real estate developer e-Shang Redwood (ESR), as the company prepares for a potential initial public offering (IPO) this year.

The named investors for the pre-IPO round consist of top-tier mainland finance firms which include Hong Kong-based GF International Investment Management Ltd., Huarong International, Huarong Rongde, SPDB International, China Everbright Ltd., Everbright Securities and CMBC International.

As per details of the IPO, the company has since the beginning of 2016, been reportedly seeking an initial public offering in Hong Kong to raise around US$1 billion.

“Modern warehousing will continue to benefit from the rapid development of e-Commerce and the transformation of the retail sector in Asia and we believe ESR is well-positioned to further enhance its strong leadership position,” said Elyn Xu, Head of Structured Finance for GF Holdings, a Hong Kong affiliate of mainland-based brokerage GF Securities.

ESR was formed in January 2016, as the result of an all-stock merger between the Shanghai-based developer and operator of warehouses, e-Shang Cayman with Singapore-based logistic fund manager, The Redwood Group. The partnership was aimed to create one of the largest logistics real estate platforms in Asia.

Leveraging on the rapid growth of e-commerce in Asia, ESR has since then quickly built a 6.5 million square meters of projects in operation or under development in China, Japan, and South Korea with another over 6 million square meters in pipeline.

Prior to the latest round of investment, the company’s existing list of backers also comprise supports of major institutional investors which include Warburg Pincus, CPPIB, APG, PGGM and Goldman Sachs.

“2016 has been a very strong year for us with the completion of the Redwood merger, the substantial increase in development starts in our core markets of China, Korea, and Japan on the back of robust market demand from our best-in-class tenant relationships and the establishment of new financing institutional relationships in each of our market,” said Jeffery Shen, the co-CEO of ESR.

“The company is well-positioned to further accelerate its growth and solidify its market leading position across Asia over the next few years,” he further adds.

The company last secured a US$ 300 million commitment in July 2016 from Ping An Real Estate, the real estate investment and asset management platform of Ping An Insurance Company of China, Ltd. The purpose of the funding was for the development of logistics projects in Japan.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

China establishes US$1.44 billion Asia Fintech Fund of Funds (FOF) focusing on M&A deals

The influence of China in advancing fintech is likely to grow even stronger in 2017 with the establishment of Asia FinTech Fund Of Funds (FOF) which has accumulated a substantial funding of 10 billion yuan (approximately US$1.44 billion) to invest in fintech startups across Asia.

Based in Beijing, the foundation was formed on December 27 and is led by Hong Kong-listed Credit China FinTech Holdings along with a number of other Chinese companies such as Shanghai Xinhua Distribution Group, China Huarong International, Jilin Province Investment Group Corp Ltd and seven other corporate partners.

“In addition to the aforesaid state-owned enterprises and private enterprises, China Cultural Industry Association, New Times Trust Co Ltd, Shenzhen China Create Group, N-Securities Co Ltd, Beijing Yongyu Investment, Tianjing Borong and Juntong Capital are also partners of the fund,” Credit China FinTech said in a statement,

The fund will primarily be used to target financial and tech mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Asia, with investments, focused on fintech fields such as big data, artificial intelligence, mobile payments, supply chain financing, and blockchain technology.

“The fund already has projects in the pipeline, covering big-data driven consumption financing, blockchain infrastructure provision, and AI-based credit service platforms,” according to Xie Sha, the Managing Partner of Asia Fintech FOF.

The investment fund also comes as a signal showing China’s growing status in dominating the financial and technology market in the international platform.

A report released by DBS and consultant EY has also ranked China as the number one fintech destination, overtaking London, New York and Silicon Valley as the world’s “FinTech Hub”.

This result is largely contributed by the developments across multiple hubs, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou in East China’s Zhejiang Province and Shenzhen in South China’s Guangdong Province.

On a similar note, the Asia FinTech FOF, also comes as the second fund of funds (FOF) after the Zhongguancun FOF, which was established in 2015 with an allotted fund of 30 billion yuan (approximately US$ 4.32 billion).

Asia FinTech FOF attempts to establish growth in the fintech industry is another attempt in China’s cap to establish its economic dominance in the Asia-Pacific region- especially if Beijing can compete with Singapore or London in the fintech sector.

“Leveraging on the fund partners’ experiences and competitive advantages in brand recognition, industry resources, and expertise, the Fund aims to invest in innovative FinTech enterprises with potential and help them to be the FinTech leaders with our technical know-how and capital resources,” said Sheng Jia, the Credit China FinTech Executive Director.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Everstone makes third healthcare acquisition, investing US$35 million in OmniActive Health

India-based private equity (PE) fund Everstone Capital has invested US$35 million (about Rs 232 crore) in Mumbai-based nutraceutical ingredient player OmniActive Health Technologies for a significant minority stake on Monday.

OmniActive Health Technologies is a leading supplier of naturally sourced ingredients for eye health, weight management and heart health to global nutraceutical companies that provide food supplements and nutritional fortification.

The company is equipped with the state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, R&D centers across India and Canada, as well as sales and marketing presence across the United States, Europe, and Aisa. This latest capital will be used to help OmniActive in diversifying and expanding its offerings and implement its inorganic growth strategy.

“We welcome this partnership with the Everstone Group .with the support of its experienced teams and funding, OmniActive looks forward to building on our history of solid organic growth by further strengthening our presence globally using innovative products and technologies,” said Sanjaya Mariwala, the managing director of OmniActive Health.

“This will be done by also growing inorganically to bring a wider product portfolio of responsibly make ingredients to our customers through our strategic acquisitions,” Mariwala added.

Founded in 2005, OmniActive, over the last decade, has emerged as the leading nutraceutical ingredient supplier to international markets from India, helped by the gradual shift in the nutraceuticals sectors towards the increasing demand in the consumption of natural products.

In the last 18 months, the nutraceutical firm claims that it has completed 12 human clinical trials in healthy populations across its portfolio of branded ingredients. The company also holds a strong presence in the United States and is working to achieve similar success in Europe and Asia.

As part of the deal, Everstone will be represented by Deep Mishra, the Managing Director at Everstone India, who will join OmniActive’s board as a nominee director, along with Dr. Leendert Staal, an internationally reputed nutraceutical expert who was the CEO of the global industry leader DSM Nutritional Products from 2008 to 2013.

Co-founded by Sameer Sain and Atul Kapur, former Goldman Sachs executives in 2006, Everstone Capital has been an active PE investor in India. The PE major assets that it has US$3.3 billion under management, as well as around 200 employees working across five offices located in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Mauritius, and London.

“This investment aims at helping OmniActive scale its already strong presence in the fast-growing nutraceutical space. We are excited about partnering with the Mariwala family and building a world-class global business,” said Sameer Sain, the co-founder and managing partner of Everstone Group.

With this deal, the OmniActive investment will also become the fifth acquisition from its third PE fund – Everstone Capital Partners III that it has closed in September 2015 as well as the company’s third acquisition in the healthcare and wellness sector which has completed in less than a year period.

Everstone acquired a majority stake in Mumbai-based drug delivery technology firm Rubicon Research Pvt. Ltd, a pioneering drug delivery technology company for approximately $33 million in October 2015. Preceded by a majority stake in Ascent Health, an Indian pharmaceutical delivery services provider, in March.

Avendus Capital advised OmniActive on this deal as the investment banker.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

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