Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing's private investment firm, Horizons Ventures, is opening a Singapore office to find new deals and support portfolio companies trying to expand in Asia.
As many as 10 employees will be based in the South-east Asian country, including senior investment manager Jacky Li, who will focus on deal execution, and Mr Jeffrey Ho, a portfolio curator. It comes a year after the firm flagged plans to ramp up deals in the region and will be Horizons' first office outside Hong Kong with a focus on supporting portfolio companies entering the market.
The Li-funded firm, which was co-founded by long-time confidante Solina Chau, is the latest among a raft of high-profile investment outlets and family offices that have set up presence in Singapore - attracted by its low taxes, relative safety and an expedited pathway for permanent residency for the super wealthy.
A number of investors have either left Hong Kong or expanded operations outside the city amid increasingly strict national security laws and Covid-19-related travel restrictions. Horizons Ventures said none of these factors played a part. Instead, its decision was driven by Singapore's advantages as a regional hub for investors and expansion.
"We have about 23 investments across the region and operating out of this hub actually becomes pretty important because everyone is here," said Mr Chris Liu, an Adelaide-based portfolio curator for Horizons. "Building a hub out of Singapore and helping our companies create and identify strategic opportunities and partnerships into the South-east Asian region makes total sense."
Mr Liu made the comments on a trip to Singapore with founders from two portfolio companies - healthcare AI platform Harrison.ai and Loam Bio - both of which met Singapore government agencies and state-owned investors with Horizons' assistance.
"Connecting into this region, it makes more sense to be in Singapore than Hong Kong. A lot of our co-investors are in this part of the world rather than in the Greater China region," he said, naming investment company Temasek as an example, adding that Australia was too physically far away from Asia to act as a regional base.
Mr Li, whose early wealth was built on infrastructure, telecommunications and real estate, enjoyed a surge in wealth thanks to high-tech bets in companies like Zoom Video Communications and Spotify Technology via Horizons Ventures when the pandemic hit.
In October, Horizons will host portfolio company founders, co-investors and guests in Singapore for its biannual Techcracker event.
The firm is speaking to universities and professionals to see what investment and hiring opportunities are available, Mr Liu said.
He added that "well over US$100 million (S$139.4 million)" has been deployed across its Australian investments, with South-east Asia likely to get similar, if not higher, amounts of deals.