BI Continues To Invest In Southeast Asia
The Bertelsmann Investments (BI) division has been active in the Southeast Asia region since 2019. BI now has four investments in other investment funds here, as well as two direct investments in start-ups. Similar to its entry into the growth markets of China, India and Brazil, BI launched its activities in Southeast Asia with a “fund-of-funds” strategy.
After successfully establishing investment activities in Europe and North America as well as in China, India and Brazil, the Bertelsmann Investments (BI) division has also been active in the Southeast Asia and Africa regions since 2019. In Southeast Asia in particular, a lot has happened since then: BI now holds four investments in other investment funds, as well as two direct investments in promising start-ups. “As a global investor, Bertelsmann Investments keeps a close eye on macroeconomic developments and venture capital markets around the world,” says Carsten Coesfeld, CEO of Bertelsmann Investments. “After building successful investment businesses in China, India and Brazil, we have also been exploring other growing markets, including Southeast Asia, for several years now,” adds Shobhna Mohn, Chief Strategy Officer of Bertelsmann Investments: “We see strong economic fundamentals, a mature venture capital environment, and ambitious entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia – the best conditions, that is, for us to make successful investments together with locally established partners.”
Similar to its entry into the growth markets of China, India and Brazil at their respective times, BI launched its activities in Southeast Asia in 2019 with a “fund-of-funds” strategy, investing in a total of three funds from Vertex Ventures. Vertex is one of the most experienced investment funds in the region and is largely funded through Temasek, the Singapore government’s investment holding company. In 2019, BI began by investing in the “Vertex Ventures SEA + India Fund IV,” the company’s local early-stage fund focusing on areas of particular interest to Bertelsmann, such as enterprise technology, consumer internet, financial technology, and healthcare. This was followed in 2020 by an investment in the “Vertex Growth Fund II.” Through this fund, Vertex invests globally, but with a strong focus on Asia, in more mature startups in similar segments. Vertex has total capital of US$775 million for these two funds and has already invested in more than 30 companies. In October of this year, BI finally also entered the new follow-on fund, “Vertex Ventures SEA + India V,” with a planned total volume of $450 million.
Bertelsmann Investments’ second partner in the region is Openspace Ventures (OSV), based in Singapore. OSV also invests its capital in fledgling startups in key markets in Southeast Asia and has used this strategy to build up an investment portfolio of 46 holdings in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines since 2014. In 2022, BI participated in the OSV+ growth fund, marking the first time the team focused on investing in start-ups that have been operating in the market for some time and are now looking to enter their next phase of growth. In most cases, these will be especially promising companies from OSV’s early-stage funds. OSV+’s investments also include the two successful health tech companies Biofourmis and Halodoc. “The cooperation with Vertex and OSV represents a tremendous value-add for us,” says Alena Kuhlmeier, Vice President at Bertelsmann Investments and whose responsibilities on Shobhna Mohn’s team include the company’s activities in Southeast Asia. “We now understand the region much better than we did three years ago.”
Besides these fund investments, BI also invested directly in two young companies in 2022: the first, in June of this year, is Naluri, a company founded in 2017 and active in Malaysia and Singapore. The start-up has developed a digital healthcare solution that enables companies to identify employees at risk of developing a disease and offer them a wide range of services around the detection and treatment of mental and physical disorders.
The second investment was made in October of this year, in the Singapore-based healthcare company Speedoc, also founded in 2017. Bertelsmann Investments, together with the investors Shinhan Venture, Vertex Ventures, Xyris, and Mars Growth, provided a total of US$28 million in the financing round for the company’s further expansion. Speedoc’s business mission is to provide hospital-grade medical care to people in their home environment through technology-driven and innovative services and solutions, thus serving as an extension of hospitals and clinics. The company already provides a variety of mobile medical services in Singapore and eight cities in Malaysia, and counts the largest and most important hospitals among its clientele. Its range of services covers everything from virtual consultations and remote monitoring to on-site visits by medical and nursing staff, to organizing patient transport (ambulance etc.).
And so, BI’s latest investments in Southeast Asia fit seamlessly into the Bertelsmann Investments division’s overall strategy. “We see great potential worldwide for digital health solutions that will benefit patients, providers, and payers,” says BI CEO Carsten Coesfeld. “This is true not only for our new Bertelsmann Next initiative, where this topic is a particular focus, but also for our venture capital teams, who address this with their investment theses depending on market developments and challenges.”
Shobhna Mohn, too, takes a positive view of the activities in Southeast Asia: “The expectations that we had when we launched in Southeast Asia in 2019 have been confirmed. We have made an excellent start with our investments in the Vertex and OSV funds and the investments in Speedoc and Naluri, and we continue to see great potential in the region, as well as many further opportunities for us.”