President of Internet firm Sea to retire

Mr Nick Nash, 39, is said to have a lifelong passion in investing, and may set up his own private equity firm.
Mr Nick Nash, 39, is said to have a lifelong passion in investing, and may set up his own private equity firm.

Mr Nick Nash, the group president of Internet firm Sea Limited, is said to be retiring at the year end.

The 39-year-old, who has been group president since December 2014, is said to have plans to set up a private equity firm. Until his retirement, he will continue to advise group chief executive officer Forrest Li on long-term strategic priorities.

Sea, formerly known as Garena, is a Singapore-headquartered, New York-listed Internet company that offers digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services.

Said a company spokesman: "Nick has always had a lifelong passion in investing. His long-term plan is to return to his roots in investment to help support the next generation of technology and technology-enabled businesses in Asia."

Before joining Sea, Mr Nash served at General Atlantic, a New York-based growth equity firm and an early investor in Sea. Concurrent with announcing his retirement, he retired from the board as of Feb 23. On Feb 24, the board elected Sea chief financial officer Tony Tianyu Hou to serve as a director.

The change came as Sea gains a strong financial footing for the next phase of growth, the spokesman said. In October, Sea began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in an initial public listing that raised US$884 million (S$1.2 billion).

Sea yesterday reported wider losses despite higher revenues for its fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2017. Adjusted net loss came up to US$251.6 million, compared with a US$62 million loss a year ago, due mainly to investments in its e-commerce business Shopee.

The spokesman said: "Shopee is in the very early stages of monetising but has continued to deliver solid growth with a record gross merchandise value (GMV) of US$1.6 billion in Q4 2017 and 98.3 million gross orders."

In the fourth quarter, sales and marketing (S&M) expenses for Shopee more than tripled from US$44 million a year ago to US$135 million, accounting for 86.3 per cent of total S&M expenses.

"We seek to drive down S&M spend as a percentage of GMV... (This) was about 8.5 per cent in Q4 2017, versus 9.7 per cent in Q3 2017. This is a clear sign that our Shopee S&M cost productivity is improving," said the spokesman.

For the quarter, Sea's total adjusted revenue rose by 72.8 per cent to US$164.5 million - boosted by higher revenues from all its business segments. Loss per share came up to 0.90 US cent for the quarter, compared with 0.42 US cent a year ago.

The spokesman said the firm's digital entertainment business was highly profitable with an adjusted Ebitda margin - a measurement of a firm's operating profitability as a percentage of its total revenue - of 37.1 per cent in the quarter. Itsaw strong growth with 59.2 per cent year-on-year adjusted revenue growth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'President of Internet firm Sea to retire'. Print Edition | Subscribe