Action man Teh a natural fit for One

Teh Hua Fung, chief financial officer of mixed martial arts organisation One Championship, leads strategic initiatives and projects in Singapore and abroad.
Teh Hua Fung, chief financial officer of mixed martial arts organisation One Championship, leads strategic initiatives and projects in Singapore and abroad.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Teh Hua Fung went from being a principal at private equity firm TPG Capital to chief financial officer (CFO) at mixed martial arts giant One Championship in January.

But the move from the financial industry to a sports-related role is not as alien as it sounds.

After all, the 39-year-old has a black belt in taekwondo, represented his secondary school, combined schools and university basketball teams, and helped bring the Formula One race to Singapore in 2008, as a part of the Ministry of Trade and Industry's team that worked on securing the rights to the race.

A Singapore Armed Forces scholarship holder, he also clocked hundreds of hours in fighter planes.

"As part of my thought process before joining One Championship, I realised one thing: I love action," said Teh, who was a Major with the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

"Would I have made the jump (from TPG) for an e-commerce company? I don't think so.

"There are great businesses in that industry, but it does not speak to me the same way sports does.

"Sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet is obviously not the same as being an executive in a sports business. But there are many similarities; just the rush, the physicality of being around sportsmen and sportswomen. There are definitely parallels."

As CFO, Teh oversees One's financial operations and human resources. But he also leads strategic initiatives and projects, like partnership deals, in Singapore and abroad.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Business School graduate is expected to lead One's initial public offering (IPO), after One chairman and chief executive Chatri Sidyodtong said a listing could take place within the next two years.

Teh, however, said that it is not at the forefront of the company's thinking, especially after One announced last year it had secured an equity investment led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India and Mission Holdings, and raised a total capital of some US$100 million (S$131 million).

"It's a matter of when, not if (the IPO happens), and we are on track," said Teh.

"The reality is that we do have enough cash to execute our plans.

"We don't want to lose momentum, so our focus is on grabbing the opportunities we have and building our strategic footprint... If I think about how I'm spending most of my day, it's more of running and building (the company), as opposed to finding a stock exchange in which to list.

"Ultimately, if you build a good business, the capital markets side will take care of itself."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2018, with the headline 'Action man Teh a natural fit for One'. Print Edition | Subscribe