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Startups

Naver, Mirae Asset bolster presence in Southeast Asia via $898 mn fund

Nov 19, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

South Korea’s platform giant Naver Corp., alongside Mirae Asset Daewoo Co., has been increasing investments into promising startups in Southeast Asia to bolster operations in the region and see handsome returns. 

This year alone, they invested over 100 billion won ($89.8 million) in Asian startups through their $898 million joint fund, the Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, launched in 2018.

INVESTMENT BOOM FOR SOUTHEAST ASIAN STARTUPS

In September, the fund committed $80 million to Singapore-based startup Carousell, a marketplace platform for used goods. It is offered in seven languages, including Malaysian, Indonesian and Tagalog.

“Carousell is an impressive platform where users in Southeast Asia can effectively and efficiently trade used goods,” said Lee Jung-an, the head of corporate development and investment at Naver. “The company’s focus on regional community will further solidify its leading position in the market,” Lee added.

In March, Naver, with its subsidiary Line Corp., invested over $10 million into the Malaysia-based online shopping platform iPrice via the Asia Growth fund. It is also considering investing around $150 million into India’s No. 2 food delivery service Zomato.

In the second half of last year, the fund also invested in Singapore-based hotel booking startup RedDoorz, Vietnam-based entertainment startup POPS Worldwide and India-based logistics startup Shadowfax.

Other investments include $150 million into Singapore-based ride-hailing startup Grab, as well as stake acquisitions in Indonesia-based e-commerce platform Bukalapak and grocery platform HappyFresh, as well as BigBasket, an India-based online grocery platform.

Graphics by Jerry Lee


INVESTMENTS TO BOOST OVERSEAS OPERATIONS

The 1 trillion won ($898 million) fund is managed mainly by Mirae Asset Capital Co. and Mirae Asset Global Investments Co., while Naver leads the investment pipeline. 

The venture capital fund focuses on e-commerce, internet platform, healthcare, consumer goods, logistics and distribution service sectors in rapidly growing Asian markets such as Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

“Instead of just injecting money into the companies, we provide our technology, business expertise and insight to help nurture the companies in becoming global unicorns,” said a Naver official.

Naver has been utilizing the fund actively in its foray into Southeast Asia. In January, Line's Thailand-based delivery app Line Man partnered with the online grocery service HappyFresh to deliver its products. HappyFresh earlier received start-up funding from the Asia Growth fund. 

“We can anticipate simple investment gains given that IT platforms are seeing rapid growth in Southeast Asia,” said an IT industry source.

The speedy growth in Southeast Asian startups is evident as the enterprise value for Grab was around $11 billion in 2018 when Naver made its investment. Since then, the mobility startup's value has risen to $14 billion.

Write to Joo-wan Kim at kjwan@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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