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Early Grab backer raises Southeast Asia fund amid tech rout

Bloomberg
Bloomberg • 2 min read
Early Grab backer raises Southeast Asia fund amid tech rout
500 Global, one of the most active early-stage venture investors in Southeast Asia, raised US$143 million ($194.7 million) to ramp up investments in the region. Photo: Bloomberg
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500 Global, one of the most active early-stage venture investors in Southeast Asia, raised US$143 million ($194.7 million) to ramp up investments in the region and take advantage of a market rout that’s pummeled tech company valuations.

The sum includes a new US$100 million venture capital fund focusing on early-stage startups, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The rest will be for a separate growth-stage vehicle. Investors include Malaysia’s pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan Diperbadankan and sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd., as well as some of its portfolio companies.

The fundraising shows that some venture firms are still finding capital even as the industry grapples with rising interest rates, elevated inflation and a decline in technology company valuations. Downswing cycles have historically been good opportunities for VC firms, Vishal Harnal, a 500 Global managing partner, said in an interview.

“It’s a great time to be investing, especially if you are able to very properly distinguish signal from noise,” he said. “There are certain undervalued assets that exist in the market now that we should have greater exposure to.”

Through 500 Global’s third and largest early-stage fund in Southeast Asia, Harnal and partner Khailee Ng plan to invest in 100 pre-seed to Series A companies over the next few years. They will provide checks of US$250,000 to US$500,000 across Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, focusing on areas such as rural digitalization, health care and food security.

500 Global, which launched its first early-stage Southeast Asia fund in 2014, now has more than US$2.4 billion in assets under management. It was one of the early backers of companies such as Singapore’s Grab Holdings Ltd., Indonesia’s eFishery and Malaysia’s used-car platform Carsome. The firm has backed more than 340 companies in Southeast Asia over the past nine years.

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