China- and ASEAN-focussed VC firm Gobi Partners has made the first close of its new Meranti ASEAN Growth Fund at US$50 million, it announced at a press conference today.
The VC firm aims to raise a total of US$200 million for this fund, and will participate in Series B and C rounds. Meranti ASEAN Growth Fund will focus on cloud services, e-commerce, fintech and muslim-focussed tech (also known as Taqwatech). It will invest in 15 companies or more, with a ticket size of between US$5 million to US$20 million per investment.
Three regional initial limited partners joined the round, they are:
- Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP);
- Korean home shopping company GS Shop;
- Indonesian-based investment firm CKM.
The joint commitment from these three LPs is noteworthy as they give Gobi Partners the leverage and networks to effectively penetrate the disparate and fragmented Southeast Asian markets.
MAVCAP and CKM bring to the table extensive expertise and local partners in Malaysia and Indonesia market respectively (Gobi Partners said that Indonesia is a key market given its large market size). And GS Shop allows Gobi Partners to reach further into North Asian markets such as South Korea, Japan and China.
One of Gobi Partner’s portfolio companies, Malaysian e-commerce startup Hermo, was sold to Tokyo-listed market design company istyle inc via a trade sale in May. Gobi Partners said that the deal is a sign that more companies from Japan, Korea and China are interested in expanding to Southeast Asia; and this represents a lot of exit opportunities.
Gobi Partners also announced the appointment of two new members to its ASEAN team. They are:
- Khairul Khairi, who has experience in sovereign funds, VCs, and investment banks;
- Justin Park, former CEO of Smilegate Southeast Asia, the developer of popular first-person shooter game CrossFire.
Gobi Partners has already made its first investment with the new fund; today, it announced that it co-led a US$27 million Series B+ funding round, along with Golden Equator, into Sale Stock, an Indonesian fashion e-commerce startup. Alpha JWC Ventures, Convergence Ventures, KIP, MNC, and SMDV also participated in the round.
Gobi Partners said that late stage funding hasn’t caught up in Southeast Asia. Many government initiatives typically focus on early-stage, so it’s really up to private enterprises to drive later stage fundings. Gobi Partners added that it expects more growth funds to be set up in the near future.
Image Credit: Gobi Partners