Blue-chip veteran Koh Boon Hwee to raise funds for new venture firm

From left, the general partners of Altara Ventures: Seow Kiat Wang, Dave Ng, Koh Boon Hwee, Gavin Teo and Tan Chow Boon.
From left, the general partners of Altara Ventures: Seow Kiat Wang, Dave Ng, Koh Boon Hwee, Gavin Teo and Tan Chow Boon.PHOTO: ALTARA VENTURES

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Koh Boon Hwee, one of Singapore's most prominent executives, is teaming with four fellow investors to try and raise US$100 million (S$137 million) for a new venture firm targeting South-east Asia.

Mr Koh, former chairman of DBS Group Holdings and Singapore Telecommunications, and his partners think the time is right to start a new venture capital firm, despite challenges from the coronavirus pandemic. They'll target early-stage investments in fintech, consumer internet, enterprise software, logistics, healthcare and education.

Altara Ventures is launching as China's tech behemoths expand into South-east Asia in the face of growing hostility from the US and other major markets. Tencent Holdings has picked Singapore for its beachhead beyond China, joining rivals Alibaba Group Holding and ByteDance in the race to build up a global presence closer to home.

"The level of international investments into South-east Asia is going to increase even more with ongoing global trade dynamics between geopolitical powers," said Dave Ng, one of the new firm's five general partners. "That's going to continue to boost the ecosystem here."

Mr Ng and Gavin Teo previously worked at B Capital, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin's venture capital house. The other three partners are Mr Koh, Mr Tan Chow Boon and Mr Seow Kiat Wang, who founded Omni Industries, an electronics components maker acquired by Celestica in 2001. The trio has backed more than 100 companies, including Razer, and ran private equity firm Credence Partners.

"We are former entrepreneurs, business builders and seasoned investors and know what it takes to scale and exit," said Mr Koh, who spent over a decade on the board of Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings.