Tuesday 26 Sep 2023
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(Sept 12): Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India closed its fifth and biggest fund at US$541 million to back startups in the region, defying a slowdown in the global technology sector during a tumultuous year.

The sum includes a US$50 million vehicle that will pump in additional capital alongside its main fund into startups led by women founders, the Singapore-based firm said in a statement on Tuesday. New investors include Japan Investment Corp and International Finance Corp, while most of the investors in its previous funds — such as Cathay Life Insurance Co — put in capital again.

The fund is almost double the size of the last regional vehicle Vertex closed in 2019, before Covid set in and investors began re-assessing the worth of loss-making firms globally. It signals that some investors are willing to revive startup bets, even as the sector struggles with rising interest rates, elevated inflation and a decline in technology company valuations.

“Investors are still investing,” said Chua Kee Lock, a managing partner at the firm. “For those like us who show consistent performance, they will still commit.”

The firm aims to provide cheques of about US$2 million to US$8 million to startups focusing on areas such as consumer internet, enterprise and financial technology, said Ben Mathias, a managing partner at the fund.

Investment firm Vertex Holdings is an anchor investor in the fund. The Southeast Asia and India entity is one of six major funds in Vertex Holdings’ global network, each of which is independently managed and raises most of their capital externally. Vertex Holdings, in turn, is a wholly owned unit of Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.

Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India, which launched its first fund in 2010, has about US$1.5 billion in assets under management. It was one of the early backers of companies such as Singapore’s Grab Holdings Ltd, Nium Pte Ltd and Patsnap. The firm has backed more than 80 companies over the past 13 years.

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