Warburg sees gold in Go-Jek
SINGAPORE: Warburg Pincus’s investment in the first billiondollar Indonesian tech startup began with an American executive noticing green motorcycle helmets on the roads of Jakarta.
Jeffrey Perlman, the buyout firm’s Southeast Asia head, had been travelling to the Indonesian capital regularly to oversee the firm’s joint venture with mall operator PT Nirvana Development when he started to see more and more motorcyclists wearing green headgear emblazoned with the Go-Jek logo.
He soon set up a meeting with Nadiem Makarim, a co-founder of the on-demand ride provider, and in August last year his firm participated in Go-Jek’s US$550 million (RM2.45 billion) financing round.
The path to the Go-Jek investment — the largest-ever funding round for an Indonesian startup — reflects Warburg Pincus’s broader strategy in Asia.
After more than two decades of dealmaking in China and India, the United States private equity firm, which closed a US$13.4 billion global fund in 2015, has turned its attention to Southeast Asia with an initial focus on entrepreneurs in Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.
“We have seen how the businesses have evolved in China and India, and want to use that experience and knowledge as we see a lot of commonality in the growth of the companies in Southeast Asia,” said Perlman in an interview, here.
The New York-based firm had few investments in Southeast Asia before 2013. Since then, it has embarked on a flurry of activity, and in July it opened an office here to further grow across the region.
With Asia increasingly becoming a big part of the firm’s global strategy, accounting for about 35 per cent of total new investment activity, Perlman said he wanted to apply lessons learned investing in China and India to Southeast Asia as the firm starts to expand its attention to Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Bloomberg