KBank links with Vertex for investments
VERTEX Ventures Southeast Asia and India has named Kasikornbank (KBank) as its first Thailand limited partner and the first bank investor for its Fund III.
The company’s Fund III will “continue Vertex's strategy of investing in promising, disruptive and transformational opportunities and build them into global champions”, it said. The fund has exceeded its original target size of US$150 million and the managers are working towards its final closing.
Kbank president Kattiya Indaravijaya said the bank recognised the Vertex team’s “vast experience and successful formula in earlier investments”, such as Grab where Vertex became the first institutional investor in the online-based taxi-booking service.
She said that Vertex's global network, besides providing insights into frontier opportunities in the region, enables KBank to leapfrog into the world arena and keep abreast of innovative technology and business models in other regions as well.
KBank, one of the largest banks in Thailand, has recently launched Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), which invests in venture capital funds and startups with financial innovations that align with the bank’s strategies.
The initial capital of Beacon VC is Bt1 billion; its investment policy includes direct investments in Thai and foreign startups, and investments via leading VC funds. The company is led by Thanapong Na Ranong as managing director.
Kee Lock Chua, managing partner of Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India, said KBank was progressive in adopting new technologies and financial innovations to satisfy the diverse needs of its customers.
“We see a lot of synergies in working with KBank to tap into innovative opportunities in Southeast Asia and India where this fund is investing,” he said. “We have seen a sharp increase in capital being deployed in startups in this region, growing from US$100m in 2008 to US$2.5 billion in 2015.”
He added that much of this is invested through Singapore-incorporated startups. With more countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia accelerating their support for the start-up and Venture Capital ecosystem, the company is confident that this region will continue to see significant growth.
Financial technology (fintech) is one of the target focus areas for this fund, as digital technology unlocks value in the financial sector.
Vertex has invested in various fintech opportunities including Instarem, an international online remittance platform; Validus, a lending platform for small and medium-sized enterprises; and Turnkey Lender, a cloud-based bank-grade loan management platform. Chua is ambitious about the fund’s prospects: “We intend to tap on KBank's knowledge as we invest in the fintech sector in the region.”
Vertex Ventures SEA Management, licensed by Monetary Authority of Singapore, raises this latest fund on the heels of multiple growing successes in its previous portfolios, most notably, Grab, which raised US$2.5 billion |from Softbank and Didi Chuxing in July.