10 years Bertelsmann Asia Investments
In China, start-ups in many industries are rapidly growing into large, internationally competitive companies – an ideal environment for investors like Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), an investment fund established in 2008. On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, founder Annabelle Yu Long talks about BAI's success story in an interview.
Since its establishment, Bertelsmann’s Chinese fund has supported multiple start-ups in successfully going public – four of them in 2017 alone. In more than 10 other cases, BAI holdings were sold directly to other companies, again generating significant profits for BAI. The Bertelsmann Investments di-vision, of which BAI is a part, generated total EBIT of €141 million in 2017, after €35 million in 2016, and thus made a significant contribution to Bertelsmann’s Group net income.
Education, Media, Technology
This didn’t happen overnight, of course, and in fact required a great deal of patience and time. Founded in January 2008 and based in Beijing, BAI was built up by Annabelle Yu Long, who still manages it today, together with Bertelsmann’s Corporate Center in Beijing. Then as now, BAI focused primarily on sectors that are of interest to Bertelsmann, such as education, media and technology, and digital business models. In April 2008, BAI made its first investment: China Distance Education Holdings (CDEL), an online learning specialist. Many other investments followed; the fund currently has more than 85 holdings. “Today, BAI is one of China’s best-known and most successful venture capital funds,” says Annabelle Yu Long.
The Tireless Unicorn Hunters
A unicorn is to investors what a nugget is to the gold prospector. In investment jargon, a unicorn is a start-up with a market cap that has passed the magic billion-dollar mark. Anyone who discovers such a company at an early stage and invests in it has hit the jackpot. A ranking by the auditors Deloitte and the investment experts China Venture in the fall of 2017 indicates that Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) is a pretty good unicorn hunter.
This requires a capable and experienced team. You don’t need a lot of minds – just the right ones. Six people make up the team led by Annabelle Long, Founding and Managing Partner, BAI. What does the BAI team want for its 10th birthday? Iris Cong may have expressed it best: “We want to become the best unicorn hunter in Asia.”