S'pore crowdfunding site lists on Aussie stock exchange

MR GETTY GOH, co-founder of Singapore real estate crowdfunding site CoAssets

Singapore real estate crowdfunding site CoAssets has been listed on Australia's second stock exchange in an effort to raise its corporate credibility. CoAssets, with a market value of A$13 million (S$13 million), was listed on the Newcastle-based National Stock Exchange (NSX) yesterday.

CoAssets is an online platform where investors put their cash into real estate developments, seeking financial returns down the track.

Its share price opened at 10 Australian cents on the NSX, which is owned by NSX, a firm listed on the nation's main bourse, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). More than 100 companies are listed on the NSX.

Co-founder Getty Goh said the listing is to raise credibility and not raise working capital.

"We're already profitable and did not need to raise capital. But we wanted to show that we are a legitimate crowdfunding company," he told The Straits Times.

He acknowledged that there have been instances where people have been scammed by bogus real estate developers who raise funds but do not work on any projects.

The firm wanted to show its credibility by complying with the listing rules, which include rigorous audits, he said.

"We went through two rounds of audits. The first occurred in Singapore for our yearly report while the second was done in Australia in preparation for the listing."

The two-year-old CoAssets has been involved in 15 deals in South-east Asia, raising more than $10 million in working capital.

Singapore small and medium-sized enterprises that want to raise at least $100,000 and repay the loan in less than a year will be considered for CoAssets.

It was Mr Goh's personal experience when he ran into cash flow problems while developing a small villa project in Thailand that prompted him to start CoAssets.

He wants to help Singapore developers, for example, who want to start a real estate development in a neighbouring country but cannot find banks to support their projects. Mr Goh believes "many small real estate developers in South-east Asia want to undertake real estate development but do not have the cash flow to pay for inventory, staff or marketing''.

"We help them raise the funds."

He will be expanding CoAssets' crowdfunding business in Australia soon but will broaden its scope to include other industries, such as retail and manufacturing.

CoAssets is the latest among a group of start-ups that have gone to Australia to be listed. Last year, tech start-up investment firm FatFish and social entertainment platform Migme raised A$4 million and more than A$10 million, respectively, when they listed on the ASX.

Digital marketing start-up Netccentric raised A$12.5 million when it listed on the ASX on Monday .

Mr Goh said CoAssets aims to transfer to the ASX as it grows.

"When this happens, they will be trading on our shares and we believe that the Australian retail investors are more familiar with tech stocks," he said.

The familiarity comes from the successful tech listings on the ASX, such as online classifieds, jobs portal Seek, and online travel website Wotif, said Netccentric's co-founder, Mr Cheo Ming Shen.

Australian investors understand that even if the stocks do not make money for now, the potential for growth may still be good.

Filing for a listing in Singapore can also be expensive.

Migme's co-founder Steven Goh complained that small start-ups would have to pay about $2 million to list here to cover costs, such as legal and accounting expenses, whereas it would cost only A$250,000 in Australia.

Generally, Singapore investors stick to stocks they know, such as real estate, manufacturing and oil and gas, said DBS Vickers vice-president for institutional sales Tan Ai Teng. Internet stocks that are purely digital services are difficult to grasp for investors as they do not have physical products, she added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline S'pore crowdfunding site lists on Aussie stock exchange. Subscribe