Issue 30
 

Honestbee said to temporarily halt Malaysia operations


Singapore-headquartered grocery and food delivery startup Honestbee is temporarily suspending its operations in Malaysia from July 22, Channel News Asia reported on Thursday. 

The move comes shortly after the service provider halted its food delivery service in Singapore as part of a strategic review of its business in May. 

“After a strategic review of our company’s businesses, our headquarters in Singapore has made a firm decision to temporarily suspend our operations in Malaysia,” Honestbee said in an announcement to its food partners, which was seen as CNA. 

DealStreetAsia has reached out to Honestbee for comment. In May, Honestbee announced that it was halting its food delivery service in Singapore, and temporarily suspending its laundry services as part of an in-depth strategic review of the business. 

The decision was made to optimise the business structure, and to drive better focus and alignment with Honestbee’s current strategic priorities, said the startup. Honestbee will continue to operate the grocery delivery service, and its physical store – Habitat by Honestbee. 

Besides Singapore, Honestbee had also suspended its operations in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines. In a recent report by Malay Mail, HonestBee had said its Malaysian operations were still “going strong”, particularly in the urban areas of Klang Valley, Johor Bahru and Penang. 

DealStreetAsia had in May reported that Honestbee is seeking to raise S$20 million ($14.5 million) in bridge financing, and is open to raising this capital via convertible loans/warrants at double-digit interest rates, for a term of 6-12 months. 

Last year, Honestbee was reported to have raised $49 million from Yesco, a subsidiary of LS Group, one of South Korea’s chaebols. Interim CEO Brian Koo, the founding member of Silicon Valley’s Formation 8, is also an investor. This week, news emerged of the exit of Honestbee’s vice president of marketing, Christina Lim, after a year into the role.

 

From – Deal Street Asia

 

SG’s soCash raises $6m in Series B funding, led by Japan’s Glory Ltd


SoCash, a Singapore-based fintech startup, has raised $6 million in Series B funding led by Glory Ltd, a Japanese manufacturer of money handling machines. 

The other participating investors are SC Ventures, the venture arm of Standard Chartered Bank; and Temasek-backed venture capital firm Vertex Ventures. SoCash last raised $5.5 million for its Series A round from Vertex Ventures in August 2018. 

According to a statement, soCash will use the fresh funds to grow its distribution network in Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong, having recently acquired regulatory clearances in all three markets. Moving forward, it will aggressively hire across all three markets, in order to cater to demands from virtual and digital bank players looking for a smarter distribution alternative to branches and ATMs. 

Hari Sivan, co-founder & CEO of soCash said: “We started soCash to make cash circulation efficient. Our platform has now evolved to become the only network that converts neighbourhood shops into virtual branches. With the emergence of virtual banks and open banking, our network is well equipped to offer sales & distribution with flexibility and massive scale.” 

Launched in 2018, soCash started as an app allowing bank customers to withdraw cash from stores as they would at conventional ATMs, without the need for card and pin. Its technology directly plugs into the banks’ APIs, allowing users to place a cash order via the soCash app and select a partner merchant to collect the cash from, while the app deducts the selected amount from the customer’s account. Today, SoCash’s network platform comprises over 1,400 shops across Singapore and it is building its network in Malaysia and Indonesia with retail chains like SPH Buzz, U Stars supermarket, iECON stores, U Mart, 7-Eleven and HAO Mart. Its partner banks in Singapore include ICBC, Standard Chartered, DBS and POSB. 

The investment by Tokyo-listed Glory Ltd is seen as a move to tap a growing market of consumers, retailers and banks who are reflecting new habits of drawing and using cash – whether via mobile devices or brick and mortar stalls. 

“GLORY is a global leader in cash processing and retail automation, and we believe that the current supply chain of cash needs to transform as the transportation of cash across large distances costs billions of dollars each year, a cost largely passed on to consumers,” said Minoru Higashiyama, leader of the long-term Vision Project Team at GLORY. “soCash’s approach of connecting retailers, banks & consumers on a platform for cash circulation is a perfect fit to GLORY’s hardware & IoT business,” Higashiyama added. 

Founded in 1944, Glory is one of the world’s pioneers in currency processing machines. It also manufactures, sells and maintains a variety of machines including currency terminal devices, vending machines, open teller systems, and coin/banknote recyclers. It serves 100 countries globally across financial, retail, amusement and gaming sectors.

From – Deal Street Asia
 


PH-listed port operator ICTSI wins bid to acquire Brazil’s Libra Terminal Rio

Philippine-listed port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) on Thursday announced that it has won the bid to acquire Libra Terminal Rio SA (Libra Rio), the operator, manager, and developer of a container terminal in the port of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro City. 

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, ICTSI said, its subsidiary, ICTSI Americas BV, emerged as the winning bidder to acquire the Brazilian container terminal operator from Boreal Empreendimentos e Participacoes SA. 

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed and ICTSI, one of the world’s leading port and terminal operators, said it will work to sign a share purchase agreement with the seller in due course. Libra Rio holds the concession rights to operate, manage and develop the container terminal Terminal de Contêineres 1 (T1Rio) in the port of Rio de Janeiro City. 

The concession of T1Rio commenced in 1998, and was extended in 2011, to last until 2048. With the acquisition, ICTSI said, it will assume the operational, development, and other responsibilities under the current concession contract. “The transfer of the facilities to ICTSI management is expected to take place after all conditions precedent and required regulatory approvals have been obtained,” the Philippines-based port operator disclosed. 

In 2018, T1Rio had a throughput of approximately 135,000 TEUs and an estimated capacity of 530,000 TEUs. It has container terminal assets, including five ship-to-shore gantry cranes and a range of yard handling equipment including more than 16 rubber-tired-gantry cranes. 

The facility has a total land area of 18.8 hectares and 715 meters of quay wall, with a design water depth of up to 16 meters and, thus, the capability to receive large container vessels of global shipping lines. 

In June, ICTSI was declared preferred bidder for the concession of the development, operation, and maintenance of the multi-purpose terminal of the Port of Kribi by the Port Autonome de Kribi. The Port of Kribi is located in Cameroon, Central Africa. It is a newly built port with a deep draft. The multipurpose terminal consists of 265 meters of berth and 10 hectares of yard.

 
From – Deal Street Asia


China to remove foreign ownership caps for life insurers by 2020

China will remove foreign ownership caps for life insurers, securities firms and funding houses by 2020, a year earlier than scheduled, the top financial watchdog said on Saturday. 

According to a statement from the State Council Financial Stability and Development Commission published by the central bank, China will encourage foreign companies to set up or take stakes in money brokerage firms and allow foreign investors to hold more than 25% stakes in insurance asset management firms. 

The opening up of its financial sector is a key part of Beijing’s efforts to resolve a trade war with the United States. Washington has accused China of limiting market access for US firms, forcing companies to transfer technology and providing little protection for intellectual property rights. China’s financial stability commission said it was operating on the principle of “sooner rather than later” when it comes to relaxing restrictions on foreign institutions. 

The People’s Bank of China also said it would permit foreign-invested agencies to give ratings to all forms of interbank market and exchange-traded bonds. 

It added that it would even let more qualified foreign-invested rating institutions develop credit-rating businesses for the interbank market and exchange-traded bonds, and allow them to receive Type A lead underwriting permits. The financial stability commission, chaired by China Vice Premier Liu He, convened on Friday to discuss the course of financial reform in the first half of the year. 

“At present and in the next period, international and domestic trends are complex and there are many risks and challenges to the stable operations of the domestic economy and financial system,” it said. It promised to continue to implement a sound monetary policy and carry out countercyclical adjustments in order to maintain sufficient liquidity in the market.

From – Deal Street Asia
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WeWork plans to host analyst day for Wall Street banks in IPO push

The We Company, parent of shared office space manager WeWork, plans to host an analyst day for Wall Street banks on July 31, as the company steps up its preparations for an initial public offering (IPO), people familiar with the matter said. 

WeWork’s decision to host the event at this stage is unusual, given that IPO hopefuls have typically hired underwriters by the time they invite analysts from Wall Street banks to educate them about their company’s business. 

While WeWork filed for an IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in December, it has yet to hire IPO underwriters, the sources said. WeWork wants to be in a position to potentially go public by the end of 2019, the sources added. 

The hosting of the event at this early stage indicates that the New York-based start-up wants to leave nothing to chance after other high-profile IPOs struggled or were canceled this year, amid pushback from investors over the frothy valuations sought. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. A spokesman for WeWork declined to comment. 

The IPO market has been challenging for some of this year’s biggest listings. Ride-hailing companies Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) and Lyft Inc (LYFT.O) faced criticism from investors about their steep losses and the lack of commitment to a timetable to reach profitability. Last week, Anheuser Busch InBev NV (ABI.BR), the world’s largest brewer, shelved the initial public offering (IPO) of its Asian business after it could not muster enough investor support for the valuation it sought. 

WeWork was recently valued at $47 billion in a private fundraising round, making it one of the most valuable private companies in the world. However, the money-losing company has faced questions about the sustainability of its business model, which is based on short-term revenue agreements and long-term loan liabilities. 

The losses at WeWork’s parent company narrowed slightly in the first quarter of 2019 to $264 million as revenue continues to double annually. WeWork is looking to raise $3 billion to $4 billion in debt before it goes public, and has held discussions with representatives of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co to discuss the debt offering, Reuters reported earlier this month. A substantial debt offering could allow it to pitch itself to potential investors in a planned IPO as having sufficient funding to see itself to profitability. 

WeWork, which was co-founded in 2010 by CEO Adam Neumann, has helped pioneer “coworking,” or shared desk-space, with a focus on startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers. In January, Japan’s SoftBank boosted its stake in WeWork by $2 billion in a deal that was billions of dollars below what the company had hoped to raise to fund growth and buy out existing shareholders.

From – Deal Street Asia
 
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