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Weekly investor roundup: Singapore's GIC leads $240 million fundraiser for Grafana Labs; Korea's Mutual Aid Fund to issue a $328 million real estate mandate

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC is leading a $240 million Series D funding round for open source technology company Grafana Labs; South Korea’s Yellow Umbrella Mutual Aid Fund is seeking managers for a $328 million real estate mandate; Hong Kong's Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) posted HK$76.2 billion loss in the first quarter of 2022, and more.
Weekly investor roundup: Singapore's GIC leads $240 million fundraiser for Grafana Labs; Korea's Mutual Aid Fund to issue a $328 million real estate mandate

TOP NEWS OF THE WEEK:

Grafana Labs, the company behind the world’s most ubiquitous open and composable operational dashboards, has announced a $240 million Series D round of investment led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, said a company statement last Thursday (April 7).

The other investors include JP Morgan and existing shareholders Sequoia Capital, Coatue, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Lead Edge Capital.

The new round gives Grafana Labs fuel to aggressively deliver on its open-source and cloud product roadmap for observability and to drive innovation tailored for its community and customers, the Grafana Labs' statement said.

The global adoption of Grafana has increased 25 times in the past six years, and there are more than 900,000 active installations and 10 million global users today.

Source: Grafana Labs

South Korea’s state-sponsored Yellow Umbrella Mutual Aid Fund is seeking an unspecified number of asset managers for a $328 million (400 billion won) domestic real estate investment trust mandate with a three-year investment period.

The mandate consists of a $243 million (300 billion won) loan investment strategy targeting a return of at least 5% per year, and an $85 million (100 billion won) value-added and development equity strategy targeting a return of 6%.

In its request for proposal, Yellow Umbrella said the mandate is structured as a blind fund that invests in office, retail, and logistics property projects in major cities. The fund is scheduled to be established by the end of 2022.

Applications are open until April 22 with evaluation and manager selection scheduled by the end of June. The request for proposal, published on the Korea Financial Investment Association’s website  on April 5, stipulated that applicants must not have any record of law and regulation violations in the past five years. Yellow Umbrella has $11.8 billion (14.5 trillion won) of assets as of March 2021.

Source: Asia Asset Management

The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) recorded a loss of HK$15 billion ($2.61 billion) in March, bringing its accumulated 2022 losses to HK$76.2 billion, its worst quarter in two years.

The MPF's ongoing losses are due mainly to the poor performance of Hong Kong and China equities, according to the report by its research group MPF Ratings on April 6.

On a per-member basis, the average losses exceeded HK$3,200 in March and HK$16,600 for the first quarter of 2022, while total MPF assets ended March at HK$1.119 trillion, down 5.35% from HK$1.182 trillion at end of 2021. MPF has 4.6 million members.

Source: MPF Ratings

MORE INVESTMENT NEWS:

AUSTRALIA

Cbus reached A$75 billion ($56 billion) of assets under management as it completed its merger with Media Super.

The super funds announced on Saturday (April 9) that they had conducted a Successor Fund Transfer, making the merger official. Media Super members are now part of Cbus and both funds will retain their brands. The merger creates a single fund that will be managed by the United Super Trustee.

Source: Cbus

AustralianSuper and LUCRF Super will complete their merger within 12 months, they said in a statement on Monday (April 11) as the funds signed a Successor Fund Transfer Deed.

The merger will take effect on June 3, which is when LUCRF Super members will be migrated to AustralianSuper.

The merger follows AustralianSuper’s merger with Club Plus Super last December. It is not clear how much LUCRF Super manages on behalf of members, but AustralianSuper currently manages more than A$260 billion ($193 billion).

Source: AustralianSuper

A company that Spirit Super and the Australian National University had invested in has been bought out by Nasdaq listed firm NetApp.

The firm, Instaclustr, is described as a leading platform provider of fully managed open-source database, pipeline and workflow applications delivered as a service. It is not immediately clear how much it was bought out for.

Instaclustr was developed within ANU and received capital from Connect Ventures, a partnership between ANU and Spirit Super.

The $47 million fund was incorporated in 2005 to invest in discoveries and inventions within ANU and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The ACT government contributed $10 million to the fund.

Source: NetApp, Financial Standard

CHINA

The People’s Bank of China has unveiled a draft law on financial stability and the establishment of a guarantee fund to prevent financial risks. 

The draft - opened for public feedback starting April 6 - aims to establish an efficient, authoritative, and well-coordinated working mechanism for financial stability, further strengthen the financial safety net, and firmly forestall systemic risks, the central bank said.

Source: PBOC

INTERNATIONAL

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) has committed $2.11 billion - or 10 commitments in total - to alternatives investments in February, including a total of $810 million across three private equity and credit funds in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Among the private equity commitments was $10 million to J-Star No. 5 through the New York Co-Investment Pool Asia Investors IV, a fund managed by Asia Alternatives. The fund will focus on small to mid-sized Japanese buyout investments across multiple business sectors.

The NYSCRF committed a total of $800 million in credit commitments to Ares SSG Capital Partners VI and Ares SSG Excelsior Co-Investment, which are both managed by Ares SSG Capital Management.

Both are closed-ended funds that invest principally in “special situations and credit investments in the Asia-Pacific region,” according to the website of Thomas DiNapoli, state comptroller and sole trustee of the $279.7 billion pension fund.

Source: Office of NY State Comptroller

CPP Investments is leading with an investment of $425 million in VerSe Innovation's latest $805 million funding round that includes also the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), Luxor Capital, Sumeru Ventures as well as returning investors Sofina Group and Bailli Gifford among others.

With the latest funding round’s conclusion, as announced on April 6, VerSe Innovation has raised $1.5 billion total over the past year, and the company is now valued at $5 billion.  

Founded in 2007, VerSe Innovation is one of the fastest growing local language artificial intelligence (AI)-driven content platforms in India. It operates Dailyhunt, one of India’s largest local language content platforms, and Josh, one of the country’s largest short video platforms.

VerSe Innovation also runs PublicVibe, a fast-growing hyper-local video platform. The company has a local language creator base of over 50 million in India, with over 80 billion video plays per month.

The newly raised funds will be used to strengthen VerSe Innovation’s position in the local language content space in India by enhancing its AI and machine learning capabilities and broadening its offerings to include areas such as e-commerce and live streaming.

Source: CPPIB, OTPP

JAPAN

Osaka-based Sumitomo Life Insurance Company has created Sumisei Asset Management, a new asset management subsidiary to monitor the investments of its US arm Symetra Investment Management.

Symetra oversees the Japanese insurer’s $16.1 billion (slightly more than 2 trillion yen) foreign corporate bond mandate. Sumisei Asset management has been established to confirm Symetra’s investment behaviour and monitor its investment status.

Sumitomo Life, which has approximately $345 billion in total assets as of December 2021, awarded the bond mandate to Symetra last October with the aim of increasing long-term yield by expanding investments in overseas credit assets, predominantly in the US.

“By moving the investment management of its foreign corporate bond portfolio to Symetra, this strategic move enables investment in the US directly and aims to increase asset management income through the effective use of resources such as human resources and knowledge of both companies,” the insurer said in a statement on April 2.

Source: SWFI, Asia Asset Management

MALAYSIA

A former Goldman Sachs banker has been convicted last Friday (April 8) on bribery and money-laundering charges in connection with the looting of more than $4 billion from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

A New York federal jury found former banker Roger Ng guilty of all the charges brought against him after a nearly two-month trial. No date has been fixed for the sentencing, but he could face up to 30 years in prison.

Jho Low, a big-spending Malaysian businessman who masterminded the scheme, was indicted along with Ng, but he is a fugitive and is believed to be living in China. Tim Leissner, a former Goldman executive to whom Ng reported, will be sentenced in July after taking a plea bargain and cooperating with the prosecution.  

Meanwhile, in a separate hearing in Kuala Lumpur, former 1MDB board member Ismee Ismail told the court that a total of RM2.28 billion ($540 million) of the looted money had gone into former prime minister Najib Razak’s bank accounts.

Source: NYT Malaysiakini

Malaysia’s private retirement scheme (PRS) assets rose 18.53% in 2021 as the number of new members and new funds increased, while the termination of an early withdrawal scheme free of tax penalties, that was introduced at the start of the Covid pandemic, led to a sharp decline in pull-outs.

Figures released by Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) show that the PRS industry had RM5.63 billion ($1.38 billion) of assets as of end-2021, up from RM4.75 billion in 2020.

The number of members rose 8.37% to 531,000, and there were two more funds last year, bringing the total to 59, according to the SC’s 2021 annual report just released. The share of early withdrawals, which accounted for a majority or 52% of total pull-outs in 2020, fell to 19% last year.

Source: Asia Asset Management

SINGAPORE

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has transferred S$75 billion ($55 billion) of excess official foreign reserves (OFR) to the Government to be invested by sovereign wealth fund GIC, a statement from the central bank said last Thursday (April 7).

The stock of OFR has grown steadily over the years, to reach S$563 billion, or about 106% of the country’s GDP, at the end of 2021, more than what MAS requires, it said.

The transfer was made through a subscription of Reserves Management Government Securities (RMGS), a mechanism created in February 2022 to facilitate the transfer of OFR that is not needed for the conduct of monetary policy and financial stability.

Source: MAS

A consortium comprising Indian private lender Bandhan Financial Holdings, local homegrown private equity giant ChrysCapital and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire IDFC Asset Management and IDFC AMC Trustee from IDFC for 45 billion rupees ($600 million).

The deal announced by IDFC last Wednesday (April 6) could mark one of the largest transactions in India's asset management industry. It is currently awaiting regulatory approvals from relevant Indian authorities.

Established in 2000, IDFC AMC is the ninth-largest asset manager in India with assets under management at 1.15 trillion rupees ($15.4 billion) at the end of March 2022. It has over 1.5 million investor folios, representing leading institutions, corporations, family offices, and individual clients.

Source: DealstreetAsia

TAIWAN

Taiwan pension funds, which are supervised by the Bureau of Labor Funds (BLF), have started the year on a low note as the Russia-Ukraine war, rising oil prices, and interest rate hikes to tame soaring inflation dragged down its investments.

The eight pension and annuity funds swung to an investment loss of NT$164.8 billion ($5.73 billion) in the first two months of 2022 from a NT$101.4 billion gain in the same period of 2021. Their average loss for the period was 3.07% versus a 2.08% gain last year.

The Labor Retirement Fund, Taiwan’s largest defined-benefit retirement scheme, was the worst performer with a loss of 3.43%, followed by the Labor Insurance Fund with a 3.16% loss.

BLF says it will continue to bolster risk management and diversify portfolio allocation in order to mitigate downside risk and enhance its funds’ long-term return.

Source: Asia Asset Management

THAILAND

Investor confidence in the Thai stock market has hit a three-month high, boosted by foreign fund inflows and optimism over the growth of corporate earnings, a capital markets group said last Monday (April 4).

A survey in March by the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations (FETCO) showed its investor confidence index, which measures confidence over the next three months, increased to 117.92 from 113.03 in the previous month.

Foreign investors have bought a net 113 billion baht ($3.4 billion) of Thai shares so far this year, after selling a combined 671 billion baht ($20 billion) between 2017 and 2021.

Source: Bangkok Post

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