Issue 41
 

Al Gore's firm inks $2.2B fintech takeover


Al Gore didn't invent the internet. But the firm he co-founded in 2004 does invest hundreds of millions of dollars in companies that use it.  

The firm's latest deal, conducted in conjunction with a Canadian colossus, continues that trend—and serves as the latest example of an explosion of private equity interest in financial software. 

The target is FNZ, a provider of financial software services to the wealth management industry. The buyers are Generation Investment Management, which Gore co-founded along with Goldman Sachs alum David Blood four years after a failed bid for the US presidency, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a Canadian manager of pension plans with $300 billion in AUM. The sellers are private equity firms HIG Capital and General Atlantic. And the price tag is £1.65 billion, or nearly $2.2 billion, making this one of the half-dozen most expensive financial software buyouts in the US or Europe in more than a decade, per PitchBook data.  

With 78 completed deals in the sector, 2018 has already surpassed last year in terms of private equity activity in the US and European financial software sectors. That continues a sharp and steady climb in interest in the space—including a fivefold increase in deals between 2009 and 2017: 
 


The deal that was far and away the most expensive in the financial software space over the past decade-plus—and the one that's responsible for the major spike in capital invested in 2018—closed earlier this month, when Blackstone took control of the financial and risk unit of Thomson Reuters (which has since renamed Refinitiv) in a $20 billion deal. No other transaction in the industry has topped $4 billion in value since the start of 2008, according to PitchBook data. 

But the price tag on FNZ is nothing to sniff at. HIG has backed the British business, which offers an array of outsourced wealth management services to financial institutions across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, since supporting a management buyout in 2009. General Atlantic became a co-investor in FNZ three years later, in 2012.  

Gore's Generation is a sustainability-focused firm that makes both minority and majority investments, with "sustainability" seemingly meaning both sustainable profits and planet-friendliness, in line with Gore's other activities as a climate activist. Its portfolio includes companies with a clear ecological tinge—such as waste management provider Harvest Power and electric bus builder Proterra—as well as businesses like electronic signature specialist DocuSign and Toast, the developer of a restaurant management platform.  

The firm has maintained a steady rate of investment so far this decade, completing between two and six new deals every year since 2010, per the PitchBook Platform. Generation is headquartered in London and operates another office in San Francisco.
  From – PitchBook

 

JD.com-Central e-commerce joint venture launches officially in Thailand


JD Central, an e-commerce joint venture between China’s largest retailer JD.com and Thailand’s largest retail conglomerate Central Group, officially announced the launch of its operations in Thailand on Thursday.

The venture will help JD expand its footprint in Southeast Asia, following its establishment of an e-commerce platform in Indonesia and its strategic investment in Vietnam’s B2C e-commerce company Tiki, it said in a statement. 

In September last year, Central Group and JD.com had announced two joint ventures for e-commerce and fintech with Provident Capital with an aggregate investment of up to $500 million. Under the agreement, half of the investment would come from Central Group and the remainder from JD.com, its finance arm JD Finance and Provident Capital. 

“This move will transform the local market and unlock the boundless consumer potential of the nation’s large population, with the ultimate goal of becoming the most trusted brand in Thailand,” JD Central CEO Vincent Yang said. 

JD Central opened its platform to the public on June 18 and offers both direct sales and marketplace models. It claims that it has received online orders 15 times higher than its initial target. 

According to Thai media reports, it plans to have five warehouses within this year and launch an automated retail store in Bangkok next year. 

Through its partnership with local delivery service providers, it will also offer same-day delivery in Bangkok and surrounding areas to serve 25 million prospective customers by 2019. 
Yang said e-commerce in Thailand will represent 10 per cent of the total retail market in three years, increasing from 3-5 per cent currently.

 
From – Deal Street Asia
 
 


Singapore’s TabSquare secures $7.2m in Kakaku.com-led Series B


Singapore-based restaurant management platform provider TabSquare has raised S$10 million ($7.2 million) in its Series B funding round led by Kakaku.com Inc, a Tokyo-listed online services provider. 

In a statement, TabSquare said, the fresh investments will help it further enhance its AI-powered restaurant solutions and accelerate its growth in Asia Pacific markets, including Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. 

The Series B funding round, which was closed more than two years after the company raised S$3.5 million ($2.57 million) in its Series A led by Walden International, was backed by Coca-Cola Amatil, Resorts World Inc and its existing investor. 

Founded in 2012, TabSquare provides an integrated cloud-based operations management and customer engagement platform for the food & beverage industry. 

The firm said, restaurants today are faced with scattered technology offerings – whether it’s reservations, reviews, delivery, or loyalty – that impact less than 10 per cent of their revenues and addresses only some of their pain points. 

“We focused on solving the more critical pain points that are core to a restaurant’s profitability and which impact 90 per cent of the restaurant revenues,” TabSquare said. 

The company said its main products – SmartTab eMenu and the SmartKiosk – uses artificial intelligence to make personalized menu recommendations and improve customers’ ability to order, pay, and deliver feedback. It currently has 6,000 active terminals service over 12 million diners in the region annually. 

“TabSquare has a very different view of the restaurant landscape and the role AI can play in propelling the industry forward. We believe each diner is unique and should be treated that way,” said co-founder Anshul Gupta. 

He added that TabSquare will invest heavily in AI technology to “make it even more effective and personalized using additional data points, and superior algorithms”. 

Kakaku.com Inc, the lead investor in the funding round, runs Tabelog, a restaurant discovery and reservation platform. It has a diverse service portfolio in multiple verticals, including shopping, food, travel, lifestyle, and real estate and is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. 

“We hope to benefit from TabSquare’s insights on in-restaurant user experiences, including AI enhanced recommendations, to explore an opportunity to bring them into the Japanese market,” Genta Sugihara, Executive Officer of Kakaku’s Corporate Development Division, said. 

Last year, Kakaku.com Inc anchored the S$14 million ($10.1 million) Series B funding of MoneySmart.sg, the online personal finance portal based in Singapore. 

Founded by three INSEAD graduates – Anshul Gupta, Chirag Tejuja, and Sankaran Sreeraman – TabSquare first raised $480,000 in its Seed Round in January 2013. The round was co-led by Get2Volume and INSEAD professor Serguei Netessine.

 
From – Deal Street Asia
 


Singapore’s GIC buys stake in Cellnex Telecom from Italy’s Benettons

A wholly-owned entity of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC is acquiring a 20 per cent stake in ConnecT S.p.A, the largest shareholder in European telecommunications infrastructure operator Cellnex Telecom S.A. 

ConnecT holds a 29.9 per cent stake in Cellnex Telecom that manages a network of 28,000 wireless telecommunications sites across Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and United Kingdom, an announcement from GIC said on Tuesday. 

The seller is Italy’s Benetton family’s holding company Edizione that is disposing of the stake in ConnecT through a wholly-owned subsidiary Sintonia S.p.A. Sintonia will remain the largest and controlling shareholder in ConnecT after the transaction. 

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction follows the announcement last week of the sale of a 20 per cent stake in ConnecT to an entity ultimately wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). 

“GIC will acquire its stake in ConnecT on the same commercial terms as the ones of ADIA, equal to those agreed by Sintonia for its July 2018 acquisition of a 29.9% stake in Cellnex from Abertis,” the announcement said. 

Edizione had acquired the 29.9 per cent stake in Cellnex from motorway operator Abertis in July for 1.5 billion euros ($1.72 billion). “ConnecT’s shareholders will work together to support Cellnex’s future growth and long term development into a platform for investment in the European telecommunications sector. 

ConnecT shareholders plan to commit €1.5 billion to fund Cellnex’s future expansion,” the statement noted. Listed on the Spanish stock exchange with a capitalization of over €5 billion, Cellnex is said to have posted consistent growth since its listing in 2015. 

The transaction is expected to complete in the next few days. Goldman Sachs acted as financial advisor to Sintonia in the transaction.

 
From –Deal Street Asia
 


Thai energy drink maker Osotspa said to raise $463m in IPO


Osotspa Pcl and current shareholders raised 15.1 billion baht ($463 million) after pricing the Thai energy drink maker’s initial public offering at the top of a marketed range, people with knowledge of the matter said. 

The company and some existing backers sold 603.75 million shares at 25 baht apiece, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The shares were offered at 22 to 25 baht each. 

Osotspa, which makes beverages under the M-150 and Shark brands, adds to the $1.5 billion raised through Thai IPOs this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. 

The company plans to use proceeds from the share sale to fund domestic and overseas expansion, including construction of a factory in Myanmar, according to its prospectus. Napat Boochasuk, an investor relations manager at Osotspa, didn’t immediately answer calls to her office seeking comment.

 
From – Deal Street Asia

 
 
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