Firm steps up bat­tle with Alibaba in re­gion, es­pe­cially In­done­sia

New Straits Times - - Business -


GARENA has re­branded as Sea Ltd af­ter South­east Asia’s most valu­able start-up se­cured US$550 mil­lion (RM1.77 bil­lion) in funds to step up a bat­tle with Chi­nese e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba and other play­ers in In­done­sia.

The eight-year-old start-up backed by Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd landed a clutch of new in­vestors in its lat­est fund­ing round, in­clud­ing some of the re­gion’s wealth­i­est fam­i­lies. They in­clude GDP Ven­ture, led by Martin Hartono, the son of In­done­sia’s rich­est man, and JG Sum­mit Hold­ings Inc, founded by Philip­pine bil­lion­aire John Gokong­wei.

The shop­ping and on­line games com­pany is stak­ing out a spot as com­pe­ti­tion in South­east Asian e-com­merce in­ten­si­fies, par­tic­u­larly in the largely un­tapped mar­ket of In­done­sia.

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd has ex­panded its on­line mar­ket­place since buy­ing con­trol of Lazada Group SA last year, while Inc was said to be in­vest­ing in do­mes­tic player Toko­pe­dia to boost its busi­ness in South­east Asia’s largest econ­omy.

Founded by Chi­nese-born en­tre­pre­neur For­rest Li in Sin­ga­pore in 2009, the com­pany’s new name is also an acro­nym for South­east Asia. Its busi­nesses in­clude the on­line games brand Garena, e-com­merce op­er­a­tor Shopee and dig­i­tal pay­ments ser­vice AirPay. It’s said to have picked Gold­man Sachs Group Inc to pre­pare for an ini­tial public of­fer­ing — pos­si­bly in the United States — that could fetch about US$1 bil­lion.

Other in­vestors in the round in­clude Far­al­lon Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, Hill­house Cap­i­tal, Cathay Fi­nan­cial Hold­ing Co and an in­vest­ment arm of Tai­wanese food con­glom­er­ate Uni-Pres­i­dent En­ter­prises Corp also joined the round, said Sea.

Sea would use the ma­jor­ity of the new funds to ex­pand Shopee in In­done­sia. The on­line mar­ket­place’s an­nu­alised gross mer­chan­dise value has more than dou­bled in the past nine months to more than US$3 bil­lion (RM13 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

Sea de­clined to dis­close the val­u­a­tion af­ter the lat­est round. It last raised US$170 mil­lion at a val­u­a­tion of US$3.75 bil­lion last year, and its ros­ter of pre­vi­ous in­vestors in­clude Malaysian sov­er­eign wealth fund Khaz­anah Na­sional Bhd and Gen­eral At­lantic LLC. The start-up has said it grew net rev­enue 13-fold from 2011 to about US$270 mil­lion in 2015.

The com­pany also an­nounced the ap­point­ment of three ad­vis­ers that may prove in­stru­men­tal to its In­done­sian ef­forts: for­mer Sin­ga­pore for­eign min­is­ter Ge­orge Yeo, for­mer In­done­sian trade min­is­ter Mari Pangestu and Pandu Sjahrir, a direc­tor of In­done­sian coal pro­ducer PT Toba Bara Se­jah­tra Tbk. Bloomberg


Founded by Chi­nese-born en­tre­pre­neur For­rest Li in Sin­ga­pore in 2009, Garena’s new name is also an acro­nym for South­east Asia.

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