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JG Summit bets big on regional e-commerce, invests in internet platform

/ 01:08 AM May 10, 2017

Gokongwei-led conglomerate JG Summit Holdings has gained a foothold in regional e-commerce after investing in Singapore-based Sea Ltd., an internet platform company focused on Southeast Asia.

JG Summit is among the institutional investors that participated in Sea’s new round of funding that generated a total of $550 million in fresh capital, Sea announced in a press statement late Monday.

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“We look forward to working closely with Sea to deepen its presence in the Philippines and to nurture the growth of our country’s exports and e-commerce ecosystems,” said Lance Gokongwei, president and chief operating officer of JG Summit Holdings.

JG Summit’s property arm Robinsons Land Corp. is among the country’s leading shopping mall developers, with 44 operating malls across the country to date. Another company led by the Gokongweis, multiplatform retailer Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc., is one of the biggest players in domestic retailing.

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The bulk of the new capital raised by Sea will be invested in the growth of its e-commerce platform Shopee, with a focus on key markets such as Indonesia, the most populous country in Southeast Asia.

Shopee has more than doubled in size in the past nine months and now has an annualized gross merchandise value exceeding $3 billion, the statement reported.

Founded in 2009 as Garena Interactive Holding Ltd., Sea is the company’s new brand at the corporate holding company level to reflect its leadership across multiple platforms.

“Garena is a brand that is beloved across our game ecosystem, our Shopee brand has become synonymous with e-commerce in our region, and AirPay is quickly becoming a leader in digital financial services,” said Sea founder, chair and group chief executive officer Forrest Li. “We cherish these three brands, and are now embracing an overall identity for our entire company.”

“Our new name draws inspiration from the acronym for our region, symbolizing our strong ‘home court advantage.’ In addition, the sea connects every one of our markets, symbolizing our corporate motto of ‘connecting the dots.’ Finally, Sea is a humble, authentic word that evokes the pioneering spirit of exploration—a wonderful symbol of our corporate values,” added Li.

The statement did not say how much exactly JG Summit had invested in Sea or how big the stake was relative to total outstanding shares.

Apart from JG Summit, other investors in this round of funding, included:

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• Cathay Financial Holding Co., Ltd., a leader in the insurance, securities, and banking industry in Taiwan.

• Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C., a global institutional asset management firm.

• GDP Venture, a leading growth investor focused on the Indonesian consumer internet industry and an existing investor in Sea.

• Hillhouse Capital, a global firm of investment and operating professionals who manage over $25 billion in assets on behalf of institutional clients such as family offices, sovereign wealth funds, pensions, and US and European university endowments and foundations.

• President International Development Corp., an investment arm of Uni-President Enterprises Corp., which is one of the largest food conglomerates in Asia and also one of the largest retailers in Taiwan.

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