Garena, Singapore’s largest web platform, raises $170 million led by Malaysian government
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Garena scores a major $170 million funding round, led by a Malaysian government fund

The funding will be used to accelerate regional ‘leadership,’ and special attention was paid to Shopee and AirPay

e27

Southeast Asia’s largest Internet and mobile platform company Garena today announced it has raised a US$170 million Series D round lead by the Malaysian Government strategic investment fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah).

This latest round brings the total amount raised by Garena to $500 million. The company plans to use the funding to “accelerate regional market leadership across Garena’s three pillars of Digital Content, eCommerce, and Payments.”

Garena also told e27 the investment truly makes the Internet company a pan-ASEAN enterprise with a local expertise.

“We believe that Khazanah’s experience in building world-class businesses will offer us strategic insights to expand our digital content, eCommerce and payments businesses in the region,” the statement read. Furthermore, Garena Group President Nicholas A. Nash specifically highlighted the rapid growth trajectory of its mobile online marketplace Shopee and its payment platform AirPay.

After explaining that Shopee and AirPay are the fastest growing regional companies in their prospective market, he said “These growth trajectories highlight the potential of a unified platform to serve the hundreds of millions of internet and mobile users in our region while bringing shared value to our content partners, marketplace sellers, and payment partners,” he said.

Garena’s Founder, Chairman and Group CEO Forrest Li hinted that at least part of the funding will be used to try and grow the two products into regional leaders.

“With this new round of capital, we have no doubt that Shopee and AirPay will be the leading offerings in the market,” he said.

Shopee is an app that allows offline companies to quickly sell products online in their local language and using local logistics. The company claims it is used by a whopping 650,000 SMEs. Over the ten months since its launch in June 2015, the value of merchandise sold using the app is said to be $350 million. AirPay fills a common need in Southeast Asia by allowing people to pay in cash for online goods. It has 100,000 payment counters across the region and the gross transaction value is $330 million.

On March 2, the Singaporean unicorn inked another deal with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and the amount of that funding remains undisclosed. At the same time, Garena announced that Nash would take his current role as company President. Khazanah now joins General Atlantic LLC, the OTPP, and Keytone Ventures as investment partners.

“Khazanah’s experience in building leading businesses will help us strengthen our leadership position across our digital content, ecommerce, and payment platforms and advance our global mission of ‘connecting the dots,’” Li said.

Online, the investment fund describes itself by saying, “We are entrusted to hold and manage the commercial assets of the [Malaysian] Government, and to undertake strategic investments on behalf of the nation”.

Kazanah partook in another ‘big splash’ deal this month when it was involved in the funding of Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao — an investment that was led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.

Other notable investments from Kazanah are Alibaba Group, online lending platform WeLab and an augmented reality company called Blippar. It also has indirect investments in Uber.

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Kevin McSpadden

About Kevin McSpadden


Kevin (apparently) decided moving out of the Bay Area to cover the tech startup scene was a good idea. Proven correct, the man seems to enjoy paying bills as he moved basecamp from Hong Kong to Singapore. When not writing about start-ups, Kevin is probably yodelling on top of some mountain.

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