Yesterday, Catcha Group announced the launch of Catcha Ventures, its investment arm which will focus on funding high growth new media, technology and mobile companies in the South East Asian region. In a media release, the company stated it would invest between USD$50 to $100 million in chosen companies over the next three to five year period.
CEO and Chairman of Catcha Group, Australia’s Patrick Grove said, “Over the last 15 years we have created a number of highly successful digital companies in the ASEAN region. We are excited to bring our experience and knowledge to bear in working with the next generation of disruptive entrepreneurs to help them create amazing digital businesses”.
The ASEAN region refers to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
If this announcement seems familiar, it is probably because in March 2013, Startup Daily and other tech-focused media reported that Catcha Group was launching a USD$150 million fund to do exactly the same thing – invest in high tech, high growth online businesses in the ASEAN region. But no, unlike I thought at first this is not a re-launch of the same fund, according to a spokesperson at Catcha Group. That original $150 million has already been invested.
As quoted in TechinAsia, the spokesperson stated that the 2013 cash was used for a number of larger buy-outs.
[T]hat the sum of money refers to a separate fund focusing on acquisitions, and adds that deals have already been made. These include the buyout of LivingSocial’s Southeast Asia business, all the brands under the iBuy umbrella, and Says.com.
Catcha Ventures is an entirely new fund focusing on minority-stake investments.
Catcha Ventures has been founded to address a lack of funding for business that have matured from a start-up and entered their “growth phase”. Like in Australia, Asia too has its challenges when it comes to Series A and beyond funding activities. Whilst the seed stage and angel investment activities statistically are on the rise, a fund of this size will significantly boost the profile and traction of startups in the South East Asia region that Catcha Group is targeting.
Currently the group has IPO’d four of its portfolio companies since it started in 2007. Recently one of those company’s iProperty Group, attracted AUD$106.3 million in investment from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation via REA Group. It is the largest investment in a South East Asian internet company to date.
iProperty Group has operations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, as well as investments in India and the Philippines. Theinvestment gives iProperty Group a value of approximately US$600 million, also making it the most highly-valued publicly traded company in Southeast Asia.
Grove said that the challenges faced by companies in their growth phase are inherently different from those encountered by startups; and that Catcha Ventures will deploy a unique mentorship program, underpinned by Catcha Group’s network of seasoned high level managers.
“We have enjoyed enormous benefits from knowledge sharing between our companies and will deploy the exact mentorship and investee community management model across our Catcha Ventures portfolio companies. We will pair each investee company with a senior mentor and advisor from within our group to help them navigate challenges as their business grows,” said Grove.
“Chances are, for any digital business encountering growth related issues in South East Asia, a company within our network has already successfully resolved that same challenge. Funding is one thing, but this experience and access to our network of executives and advisors is both invaluable and unique.”
According to a statement, the group is already in the midst of locking down its first couple of investments using this new fund.