In Good Company

Investing in Grab: 'It's about how CEO spoke to his mum'

Vertex CEO Chua Kee Lock says character is key, and the decision to invest in a firm rests partly on the personality of its founder

Vertex Holdings CEO Chua Kee Lock counts Grab as an iconic win. Vertex has since substantially exited Grab, reportedly making about 10 times the US$14 million or so it had put in over various stages for about a fifth of the company. “In our business, we miss one or two good ones but equally important are the ones we get lucky with,” he says.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Sometimes, the investment journey to creating a US$40 billion (S$53 billion) valuation company can begin with a missed opportunity to fund a US$100 billion firm when you could have got in at just 1/2,000th of that price.

In a sense, that is the background to Vertex Holdings' early investment in ride-hailing and delivery company Grab, South-east Asia's star Internet firm that got a nearly US$40 billion valuation when it merged in April with the special purpose acquisition vehicle Altimeter Growth Corp, with plans for a subsequent listing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 06, 2021, with the headline 'Investing in Grab: 'It's about how CEO spoke to his mum''. Subscribe