Issue 7

PayPal to close Malaysia operations by year-end, offers staff VSS

US-based online payment giant PayPal announced that it is closing down its Malaysian operations and has initiated a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) for its local employees starting April, it said in a statement on Thursday. 

The development was first reported by local tech news portal Amanz. “We have made the difficult decision to close PayPal’s operations centre in Malaysia by the end of this year. 

The work currently being delivered at our operations centre in Malaysia will gradually move to other locations. This internal reorganization does not affect our customers in Malaysia, who can continue to use our products and services as normal,” said PayPal Malaysia. 

It added that the Malaysian operations centre has done a “remarkable job” serving its customers since it opened the centre in 2011. 

According to a TechCrunch report, the closure of the Kuala Lumpur office is aimed at consolidating all functions at different PayPal offices under the same roof. 

The operations of the Malaysia centre will be assumed by other offices, which may include locations in the Philippines, China and India. “However, this decision was made to align our investment in sites that are better equipped to support the future needs of our customers and our company. 

As well as offering comprehensive separation packages, we have built an on-site careers center to promote job opportunities and provide immediate assistance to employees,” said PayPal Malaysia.


From – Deal Street Asia


Lazada Malaysia appoints former Taobao executive as new CEO

Alibaba-backed e-commerce platform Lazada has announced former Taobao executive Leo Chow as the new CEO of its Malaysian operations, it said in a statement on Tuesday. Chow, who took on the role since January, succeeds Christophe Lejeune. 

He will lead the strategic development of Lazada Malaysia and work closely with the local function teams. According to local reports, Lejeune “remains part of the Lazada family". 

Having spent eight years in Alibaba’s Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, Chow was most recently responsible for Taobao Global Platform, where he introduced a new model of cross-border business based on social e-commerce and held category management roles. 

According to the e-commerce platform, Chow has been with Lazada Malaysia since 2018 as its regional executive vice president, where he developed and implemented regional category and assortment strategies; and managed traffic policies on marketing platforms. 

He was also involved in the facilitation of Alibaba’s investment and integration of Lazada when the Chinese internet giant picked up a 51 per cent stake in Lazada for $1 billion from Rocket Internet in April 2016. Alibaba has since increased its stake in Lazada to 90 per cent for $4 billion. 

Last December, Lazada Group appointed its executive Pierre Poignant as its group CEO – its second group CEO appointment in 2018 – with immediate effect, succeeding Lucy Peng, who remains as the e-commerce group’s executive chairwoman. 

Poignant was appointed group executive president in August 2018 and was Lazada’s COO when he first started in the company in 2012, working along with Lazada founder and former CEO Maximilian Bittner. Last November, Bittner announced he has joined pre-owned luxury and premium fashion site Vestiaire Collective as its CEO. 

Over the causeway in Singapore, Lazada Group has announced the integration of online grocer RedMart’s operations into its ecosystem. The e-commerce startup acquired RedMart in 2016 for an undisclosed sum.

From – Deal Street Asia

Beacon VC leads $6.5m pre-Series A round for Thai wealthtech startup Jitta

Beacon Venture Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of Thailand’s Kasikornbank, has led a $6.5-million pre-Series A round for wealthtech startup Jitta to support its global expansion, according to an announcement on Wednesday. The funding marks the largest pre-series A for any Thai startup to date. 

“Jitta is one of the very few Thai startups with a highly scalable product, meaning it can launch and solve the same problem in any foreign market in a very quick and efficient manner. 

We believe this local startup star has all the potential to bring about an investment phenomenon that hugely benefits the society as well as putting Thailand’s startup community on the world’s center stage,” said Beacon VC managing director Thanapong Na Ranong. 

With the latest funding, Jitta plans to hire more developers to incorporate artificial intelligence into its technology and to provide stock analysis data covering 95 per cent of the world’s capital markets. 

“Additionally, we’re launching a new service called Jitta Wealth, a technology-based fund that uses the Jitta Ranking strategy and aims to provide index-beating returns in the long run. 

This long-term investment alternative will be operated by Jitta Wealth Asset Management, currently in the process of obtaining a private fund license from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and will tentatively begin operating in the second quarter of this year,” Jitta co-founder and CEO Trawut Luangsomboon said. The new service is scheduled for expansion to Singapore and India this year, he added. 

Beacon VC, which increased its fund size to $135 million in 2018, has so far invested in five startups, including ride-hailing major Grab, digital cross-border payment firm InstaReM, lifestyle platform Ookbee and software developer FlowAccount. It has also invested in Vertex Ventures’ third Southeast Asian Fund and a Dymon Asia Ventures fund.

From – Deal Street Asia

Indonesia-focused Intudo Ventures closes $50m second fund

Indonesia-focused venture capital firm Intudo Ventures on Thursday announced that it has closed its second fund at $50 million. 

The early-stage fund will focus on investing in Indonesia-focused companies capitalising on the rapid growth of private consumption and rising middle class in the country. 

According to the firm, LPs in the fund include US-based family office of former Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson, Founders Fund, Japan’s World Innovation Lab, the investment arm of Taiwan-based food and beverage conglomerate Uni-President Enterprises Corp, and Taiwan’s CTBC Group. It added more than 20 Indonesian business families also invested in the fund. 

“Every LP is capped at no more than 10 per cent of the total fund size to ensure that Intudo Ventures acts as an independent firm that can invest in the most return-driver manner,” said Intudo Ventures. Intudo Ventures raised its $20 million debut fund last February and has invested in used car platform, co-working space operator CoHive, P2P app Xendit, fitness startup Ride Jakarta, biotech startup Nalagenetics, student loan platform Dana Cita, fintech startups Oriente and EMQ as well as hospitality firm ARTOTEL. 

Founded by Patrick Yip and Eddy Chan, the VC firm strives to take lead or co-lead positions in all of its investments. It will seek to back 12 to 16 companies with Fund II by cutting initial cheques of $500,000 to $5 million. 

The Jakarta-based firm added that it focuses on Series A investments while leaving room for opportunistic seed and Series B investments in founders and companies with “break-out potential". 

“Intudo Ventures utilises an Indonesia ‘beach-head’ strategy, connecting portfolio companies with high quality international capital and curate access to the market; while also working with leading Indonesian groups and local online/offline distribution partners to create in-market growth opportunities for portfolio companies,” said the firm in its statement. 

A relatively newcomer to the Indonesian market, Intudo Ventures may have to compete with other local VC firms such as East Ventures and SMDV (formerly known as Sinar Mas Digital Ventures) for deals. 

At the recently held Indonesia PE-VC Summit 2019, East Ventures managing director Willson Cuaca said the firm will focus on investing in “new consumption” for 2019. The firm is one of Indonesia’s most prolific investor, having launched six funds in the last seven years. It also claims to have provided seed investment to 70 per cent of Indonesian startups that have gone on to raise Series A funding.

From – Deal Street Asia

IFC invests $75m in green bond issued by Philippines’ AC Energy

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, committed an investment of $75 million in a green bond issued by AC Energy Finance International Limited and guaranteed by AC Energy, according to an official release. 

IFC’s investment anchored a five-year, $300-million green bond listed on the Singapore Exchange. It is the first Climate Bond certified infrastructure-focused fund to be listed in Southeast Asia. ADB had earlier disclosed a $20-million investment in AC Energy’s climate bonds. 

IFC said the investment was in line with its commitment to growing green capital markets, including infrastructure targeted green bonds, essential for funding the region’s massive infrastructure needs. The proceeds from the AC Energy green bond issuance will be used to finance up to 5GW of renewable energy projects in East Asia and Pacific until 2025. 

IFC’s subscription is dedicated to selected solar PV and wind projects in Vietnam. The commitment also builds on IFC’s investment in the power sector in Vietnam, particularly its equity stake in Gia Lai Electricity Joint Stock Company. 

“This partnership, leveraging IFC’s extensive global experience in green bonds, demonstrates the tremendous potential of the green bond asset class as a tool for mobilizing international institutional capital into infrastructure assets,” said Vivek Pathak, Director for East Asia and the Pacific at IFC. 

AC Energy is owned by Ayala Corporation, and AC Energy Finance International Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of AC Energy. Last year, the company invested more than $40 million in a joint venture to build solar plants in Vietnam that is expected to begin operations in June this year. 

IFC has to date issued 133 green bonds for $8.8 billion in 16 currencies, including the Philippine Peso Mabuhay green bond and Indonesian Rupiah Komodo green bond.

From – Deal Street Asia
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