SPACs are targeting Southeast Asia’s start-ups, and investors are taking note

on Jul16
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Gojek drivers wearing protective masks wait for a customer along a road in Jakarta, Indonesia on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

Dimas Ardian | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Southeast Asia’s late-stage start-ups are attracting growing interest from blank-check companies that want to take them public, a venture investor told CNBC.

More than 40 SPACs — or special purpose acquisition companies — are targeting the region, according to Vinnie Lauria, managing partner at early-stage venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures.

“SPACs have really put ASEAN on the map,” Lauria said Thursday on CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia,” referring to Southeast Asia’s economic bloc comprising 10 member states. Other late-stage investors, including private equity players, are taking note and writing large checks in the region, he said.

“The next decade is going to be a very competitive decade for CEOs. You are going to have to scale from 5 to 5,000 much quicker, to be more competitive, (and for) more money,” Lauria said.

SPACs are shell companies set up to raise money through an initial public offering, with the sole purpose of merging with or acquiring an existing private company and taking it public.

Fundraising in SEA

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Lauria told CNBC that a number of Golden Gate’s portfolio companies have been approached by SPACs, and that many of them have said they are not yet ready to go public as being a private firm has its advantages.

“For a lot of our companies, they see (going public) as something one, two, or three years away. So they’re not just automatically jumping on a SPAC,” Lauria said. “When they are ready to go public, whether that’s a SPAC or traditional IPO, they will be making that call.”

Online classifieds business Carousell — one of Golden Gate’s portfolio names — is reportedly exploring listing options via the SPAC route.


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