Singapore launches matchmaking initiative for startups and potential investors [KrAsia]

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Enterprise Singapore has jointly launched Deal Fridays, an initiative that will match startups in the city-state with investors.

These curated deal-making sessions will run every Friday for 19 weeks, from June 21 to October 25. They will be organised based on sectors such as banking and finance, fintech, transport and mobility, and more.

Deal Fridays is meant to connect startups with potential investors that are keen to tie up with companies with new ideas and scalable business models in their fields. The idea is to limit the time that startups normally need to burn through while seeking new investors.

This initiative is part of the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) x Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH) event, which will be held in November.

Nikkei acquires 26% stake in Indian media startup NewsRise [press release]

Nikkei announced today that it has acquired 25.99 per cent of the outstanding shares in Indian media startup NewsRise Financial Research and Information Services.

Under the brand of Nikkei Markets, Nikkei and NewsRise have been jointly providing English-language news on Southeast Asian stock markets since April 2017, independently reporting from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

With the capital tie-up, Nikkei and NewsRise will step up co-operation to deliver  quality and quantity of the region’s market news.

NewsRise was founded in 2013. It is a publisher of real-time financial news, research and information for currency, debt, equity and resources asset classes for use by banks, broking houses, asset managers, corporate treasurers and individual investors. It has news bureaus in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru which are manned by competent business journalists and news editors.

The investment in NewsRise is one of Nikkei’s strategic initiatives to expand its footprint in Asia. Nikkei has recently acquired a majority stake in DealStreetAsia, a Singapore-based financial news site with a focus on corporate investment activity in Southeast Asia and India.

Korean lending marketplace PeopleFund bags US$35m Series B extension [DealStreetAsia]

South Korean lending marketplace PeopleFund has raised US$35 million as an extension to its Series B financing round, led by Lending Ark Asia Secured Private Debt Fund, a secured private credit strategy of Hong Kong-based CLSA Capital Partners.

New and existing investors including Shinhan Invest Corp. and D3 Jubilee also participated in the round, according to a statement.

The funding will help PeopleFund pursue international expansion as part of its strategic plans. The investment by Lending Ark comprises both secured debt and equity financing. The US$30 million debt financing will allow PeopleFund to scale up its lending business.

China opens Nasdaq-style board to lure tech firms back home [TechCrunch]

China’s much-anticipated Science and Technology Innovation board officially launched in Shanghai today, marking Beijing’s major step in drawing high-potential tech companies to list at home.

The new Star Market, first announced by President Xi Jinping in November, is expected to be a key fundraising avenue for tech companies from an array of stages, given its criteria (link in Chinese) are less stringent than other domestic boards. Beijing has over the past year encouraged local firms to become more self-reliant in producing chips and other core technologies as an escalating trade war threatens to cut China off the U.S. supply chain.

The new startup board began taking applications in late March and have so far received applications from 122 companies, according to information from the Shanghai Stock Exchange .

Enterprise conversational AI startup Yellow Messenger raises US$4M [press release]

Yellow Messenger, a provider of conversational AI solutions to enterprises, announced today that it has raised Series A funding of US$4 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners and prominent angel investors.

The angel investors that participated in the round include Phanindra Sama (Founder, Redbus and CIO of Telangana State), Kashyap Deorah (Founder of Hypertrack, Author of Golden Tap), Anand Swaminathan (Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co.), Prashant Malik (Co-founder, Limeroad), Nishant Rao (former MD, Linkedin India), Kunal Bahl (Co- founder Snapdeal) , Rohit Bansal (Co-founder, Snapdeal), Monisha Varadan (Zephyr Ventures), and Alap Bharadwaj (APAC Innovation, Google).

Yellow Messenger plans to use the funds to further its tech capabilities, and also to expand its customer success teams and presence in high-potential markets across Asia, the Middle East, and other emerging markets.