5 win awards for private equity, VC deals

At last night's awards event were (from left): Mr Tan Choon Hong, managing director of Northstar Advisors; Mr Gerald Chiu, partner at Dymon Asia Capital; Mr Dmitry Levit, founder of Cento Ventures; Mr David Gowdey, managing partner at Jungle Ventures
At last night's awards event were (from left): Mr Tan Choon Hong, managing director of Northstar Advisors; Mr Gerald Chiu, partner at Dymon Asia Capital; Mr Dmitry Levit, founder of Cento Ventures; Mr David Gowdey, managing partner at Jungle Ventures; Mr Amit Anand, managing partner at Jungle Ventures; and Mr Yap Kian Woon, partner at CMIA Capital Partners.PHOTO: SVCA

Five firms have been honoured with awards that mark the best private equity and venture capital deals struck over the year.

The prizes were handed out last night at the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association's (SVCA) 25th-anniversary gala at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Dymon Asia Private Equity won exit of the year for the sale of Asia Integrated Facility Solutions, the parent company of facilities management firm UEMS. It made more than five times its money on the investment.

Mr Gerald Chiu, partner at Dymon Asia Capital (Singapore), said: "We're very pleased with the UEMS exit. We tripled our earnings from the time that we started looking at the deal, to the time that we sold the business.

"We owned the business for two years, but had been looking at the business for almost a year before we invested. This gave us the time to formulate a good business plan and hit the ground running once we became shareholders."

Singapore's small and medium-sized enterprise sector has plenty of "hidden gems", he added.

INTERESTING, AND UNDERVALUED

Several listed companies look interesting to us - they are simply undervalued. We also think there are opportunities to partner management teams who are in 'non-core' divisions of listed companies, to do management buyouts.

MR GERALD CHIU, saying Singapore's small and medium-sized enterprise sector has plenty of "hidden gems".

"We like food, advanced manufacturing, business services, healthcare and education in Singapore right now," said Mr Chiu.

"Several listed companies look interesting to us - they are simply undervalued. We also think there are opportunities to partner management teams who are in 'non-core' divisions of listed companies, to do management buyouts."

Northstar Advisors won the private equity deal of the year for the buyout of Singapore-listed Innovalues, which was delisted in March.

Northstar is still deploying the cash it raised for its US$810 million (S$1.1 billion) fourth fund. It is focused on South-east Asia, with strengths in Indonesia and Singapore, where it still sees opportunities in both private companies and in the listed company space.

Northstar Advisors managing director Wong Chee Yann said: "Within Singapore, there are often succession planning issues and we can help provide a solution to families."

Mr Wong likes growth companies and market leaders that have good cash flows, as well as firms that are diversified into the region but headquartered in Singapore.

"One good example is Innovalues. It's a precision manufacturer which has been around for a long time and it continues to grow."

Northstar is also behind the initial public offering of Apac Realty, which it acquired in 2013 and continues to hold a controlling stake in.

Mr Wong said: "It's probably the best and only proxy for recovering transaction volume in the property market."

Cento Ventures, formerly known as Digital Media Partners, won VC exit of the year. It made a return of 10 times what it invested for its stake in payments firm 2C2P.

Jungle Ventures was awarded VC deal of the year for its investment in iFlix, a mobile video-on-demand subscription service targeted at emerging markets across the world as an affordable answer to Netflix.

Jungle was iFlix's first investor and almost co-founded the company, the SVCA said.

CMIA Capital Partners took home the most impactful non-profit/social enterprise award for its investment in Well Bright International, an integrated Wagyu cattle farm and meat-processing business based in China.

Well Bright works with the local government and farmers in cattle breeding and farming, targeting two million rural farmers living under the poverty line in the Heilongjiang province of China.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline '5 win awards for private equity, VC deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe