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SoftBank rolls out US$108B Vision Fund 2; Grab to invest US$2B in Indonesia

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of recent investment deals and updates in the Asia-Pacific technology, media and communications sector.

Top news

* SoftBank Group Corp. rolled out its much-anticipated SoftBank Vision Fund 2, worth roughly US$108 billion, that will look at investing in artificial intelligence-driven technology companies. The Masayoshi Son-led Japanese conglomerate said it will invest US$38 billion in the private investment fund. Among investors expected to participate are Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Foxconn Technology Group Co. Ltd. and Mizuho Bank Ltd. among others.

* Singapore-based GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. will invest US$2 billion in Indonesia over a five-year period to launch an electric-vehicle transport network and improve the country's digital infrastructure using funds from SoftBank. The companies said they will create a transport network in the country based on an electric vehicle ecosystem and develop geo-mapping solutions for Indonesia.

Startup funding

* Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte. Ltd. and SoftBank Vision Fund LP are looking to invest up to US$300 million in VNPAY, a Vietnam-based payments startup, DealStreetAsia reported.

* Online travel startup PT. Traveloka Indonesia is reportedly in talks to raise US$500 million in a new funding round, according to The Wall Street Journal. According to the people familiar with the matter, this latest funding round can value the startup at as much as US$4.5 billion.

Capital investments

* Banco Inter SA raised about 1.25 billion Brazilian reais through a share offering in which it priced its units at 39.99 reais apiece with SoftBank Group purchasing almost all of the equity sold by Banco Inter, three people familiar with the transaction told Bloomberg News. Each unit consists of one common share and two preferred shares.

* SoftBank closed its Growth Acceleration Fund with committed capital of 317.38 billion South Korean won. SoftBank, along with subsidiaries SoftBank Korea Corp. and SoftBank Ventures Asia, participated in the fund. The fund was created to make investments in startups globally with a particular focus on Asia.

* Baidu Inc. led a US$50 million series C funding round for Kaishu Story, a podcast content studio focused on producing children's bedtime stories, KrASIA reported.

* Malaysia-based video-on-demand service iflix Sdn. Bhd. raised over US$50 million in a funding round led by Fidelity International Ltd., with existing investors Catcha Group, Hearst Corp., Sky Ltd. and EMC Holdings LLC also participating in the round.

* Inspur Software Co. Ltd.'s cloud unit closed its series B round worth 600 million yuan, Pedaily reported. The investment, which mostly came from state-owned banks and local governments, will be used by the company for research and development, building infrastructure and branding.

* Trax Technology Solutions Pte. Ltd., a computer vision and analytics solutions provider based in Singapore, secured US$100 million in its series D round, which was led by alternative asset manager HOPU Investments.

* Sequoia Capital, DSP Group Inc. and 3ONE4 Capital Partners led a 1 billion Indian rupees funding in India-based digital entertainment company Pocket Aces Pvt. Ltd., The Economic Times (India) reported.

* SoftBank will invest US$15 million in a Colombian government-led fund that will promote startup and technology companies, Diario Financiero reported. The Colombian government will also make a US$15 million contribution in the fund, of which US$10 million will come from state-owned Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia SA. The remaining US$5 million will be provided by other public entities.

* Indian online marketplace Udaan is close to raising about US$500 million in a funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and DST Global, The Economic Times (India) reported. New investors such as Hillhouse Capital Management Ltd. and Altimeter Capital Management LP may reportedly join the funding round, with Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. also in talks for a potential investment.

* Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. is looking to raise US$1 billion in a bid to purchase telecom equipment and start a number of financial services, The Economic Times (India) reported. The telco is planning to raise the funding through offshore loans, which will be guaranteed by the Korea Trade Insurance Corp. to fund purchases from South Korean companies.

* Rakuten Capital, the investment arm of Rakuten Inc., led a US$35 million funding round for Fever, a startup based in Madrid and London that uses algorithms to plan events, TechCrunch reported. Fever CEO Ignacio Bachiller said the company will use the funding's proceeds to expand into Chicago and Barcelona, followed by Asia in 2020.

Other funding

* SoftBank is looking to raise up to ¥400 billion through a domestic bond sale, Bloomberg News reported. The Japanese conglomerate also led a US$200 million investment in Boston-based antivirus startup Cybereason Inc.

* LG Display Co. Ltd. will invest another 3 trillion won into 10.5-generation OLED production line at its P10 plant in Paju, South Korea.

* Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd., the investment bank unit of Mirae Asset Financial Group, will invest more than 500 billion won in NAVER Corp.'s Naver Financial as a strategic partner. The exact size and transaction date of Mirae Asset Daewoo's investment will be determined later.

* Rakuten injected US$100 million in U.S.-based cancer biotechnology company Rakuten Medical Inc. in a series C-1 funding round, increasing the stake in the company to 22.6%. With the additional investment, Rakuten Medical will become an equity-method affiliate of Rakuten in the third quarter.

* NetEase Inc. will invest 5 billion yuan to build an esports industrial park in Shanghai, Jiemian reported. This will house facilities for product development, talent building and hosting professional competitions.

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. will invest 10 billion yuan to build a research and development center in Shanghai, Tencent News reported. The facility will house about 40,000 staff to develop chips, wireless networks and internet of things businesses.

* Tencent is in talks to invest up to US$1.5 billion in short video platform Kuaishou, TechNode reported, citing Chinese financial blog IPO Zaozhidao. The development comes shortly after Tencent removed restrictions on using Kuaishou within its WeChat app.

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