Warburg Pincus, the private equity fund with over $60 billion under management, is doubling down on Asia after it announced a $4.25 billion fund dedicated to China and Southeast Asia.
The firm has been present in China for 25 years, and it has invested over $11 billion in a portfolio of over 120 startups that includes the likes of Alibaba’s Ant Financial and listed companies NIO (a Tesla rival), ZTO Express (a courier firm)among others. The new fund will work in tandem with the firm’s $14.8 billion global growth fund which was finalized at the end of last year.
What’s particularly interesting about the new fund is that it has expanded to include Southeast Asia, where internet adoption is rapidly expanding among 600 million consumers, for the first time. It is the successor to Warburg Pincus’ previous $2.2 billion ‘China’ fund and, with the addition of Southeast Asia, it’ll aim to build on initial investments in the region that have included Go-Jek in Indonesia (although it is going regional) and Vietnamese digital payment startup Momo from its Singapore office.
Indeed, the firm’s head of Southeast Asia — Jeff Perlman — said in a statement that Southeast Asia is “exhibiting many of the strong investment themes and trends which have driven our China business over the last 25 years.”
While there is plenty of uncertainty around China, and more widely Asia, due to the ongoing trade battle with the U.S. — which has ensnared Huawei and other tech firms — Warburg Pincus said it had received strong demand for LPs whilst out raising this new fund.
Though it declined to provide details of its backers — and you’d wager that few, if any, are U.S-based — it said it surpassed its initial target of $3.5 billion for the China-Southeast Asia fund. That’s despite evidence suggesting that China’s investment space is experiencing a slowdown in total funding raised despite more deals.
In terms of target investments, the firm said it intends to focus on areas including consumer and services, healthcare, real estate, financial services and TMT — technology, media and telecommunications.
Warburg Pincus is already one of the largest investors in Southeast Asia in terms of potential check size, although it has been fairly selective on deals at this point. The fund’s move to include the region alongside will be a boon for companies looking for growth-stage deals that are hard to find in the current venture capital ecosystem.
More broadly, it is also a major endorsement for Southeast Asia as a startup destination. The region has long been seen as having immense growth potential, but it often sits in the shadows of more mature regions like India and China.
Warburg isn’t alone in grouping Southeast Asia with another region. Sequoia’s India fund reaches into Southeast Asia — alongside its recently-launched accelerate program — as does the most recent fund from Vertex Ventures.
On the other side, a number of Chinese funds are increasingly doing deals in the region and setting up shop in Singapore. Those include GGV which has backed startups like fintech company Thunes, Ant Financial-backed fund BAce Capital and ATM Capital, which helps Chinese companies expand into and localize in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, other funds are also stepping up to address the gap in later stage capital. B Capital, a firm led by former Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, recently made a first close of over $400 million for a fund that’s targeted at Southeast Asia and other regions. Asia Partners is a maiden venture spearheaded by Nick Nash, the former president of Sea, that aims to tap into the post-Series B gap using a PE style approach that may be much like that of Warburg Pincus.