Start-up Trax raising $137m and planning IPO

Trax raised US$125 million last year in a round led by Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital, and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC came on board as a shareholder later.
Trax raised US$125 million last year in a round led by Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital, and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC came on board as a shareholder later.PHOTO: TRAX RETAIL/FACEBOOK

A Singapore-based start-up in the retail industry is finalising a deal to raise US$100 million (S$137.4 million) - an amount that values the firm at about US$1.1 billion. That would make Trax the second most valuable start-up here behind Grab.

The company is talking to a few private equity firms and the new funding round is expected to close by the end of next month, chief executive Joel Bar-El said yesterday.

Trax raised US$125 million last year in a round led by Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital, while sovereign wealth fund GIC came on board as a shareholder later.

The new funding round is to finance three acquisitions. Trax recently signed a deal to buy LenzTech, a Beijing computer vision technology service provider, for an undisclosed amount. It is also in advanced negotiations to buy a European competitor and a United States company, Mr Bar-El said.

Trax is planning an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 18 to 24 months, he added. It had intended to list on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, but it is now also in talks with the Singapore Exchange for a potential dual listing.

"New York, for sure, we are going eventually," said Mr Bar-El. "Now we have grown to a substantial size ... we feel that the company is ready for an IPO."

Trax raised US$125 million last year in a round led by Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital, while sovereign wealth fund GIC came on board as a shareholder later.

Trax's image recognition technology is used by global consumer packaged goods companies, including Coca-Cola and Nestle, to track products on retail shelves. The firm has 175 clients in 50 countries and counts private equity firm Warburg Pincus as its biggest shareholder.

Mr Bar-El, who founded Trax in 2010, said there are advantages to listing in Singapore, where the company has its headquarters along with two co-founders and other senior managers.

Uber's lacklustre stock market debut would not dampen Trax's IPO prospects, said Mr Bar-El. "As long as you have a good company that has a solid business model, blue-chip clients and expanding business model, those companies will always be successful.

"Trax has always burned very little cash and we provide solutions for a huge industry, the retail industry. We are not intimidated."

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'Start-up Trax raising $137m and planning IPO'. Print Edition | Subscribe