SINGHA Corporation has set up a new investment arm, Singha Ventures, to back startups identified with potential in Thailand and around the world.
The company, announcing the official establishment of the investment arm yesterday, also said that it aimed to make Thailand a hub for startup ventures in Asia.
The company sees the new investment unit as helping Singha Corporation to achieve greater business diversification.
With Singha Ventures, the company can channel investment capital directly into promising startups, without the need for approval from the board of directors. This will also save time.
With US$25 million in registered capital, Singha Ventures was registered in Hong Kong in the middle of last year as a wholly owned subsidiary of Singha Corporation.
Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, chairman of the executive board at Singha Ventures, said the company will invest in startups, both directly and indirectly, through venture capital funds. The company, however, will not invest more than a 25 per cent stake in individual startups in the initial stage and will allow the startup owners to run their companies. The arrangement is aimed at ensuring the startup owners remain fully motivated.
Bhurit said that the world's top-ranking companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, have grown their businesses from startups. The scene is different from 10 years ago, he said, when big companies came from the so-called real sectors of the economy, such as in the oil industry.
“With the ventures, we will able to help those startups to develop and grow their businesses over the long term,” he said. “With such a collaboration, the startups will be able to utlise Singha’s resources, such as human resources experts, and those from research and development, and marketing and sales. They will be able to leverage our distribution network.”
Singha Corporation has distribution partners in more than 50 countries. In Thailand, the company has an extensive distribution network covering more than 400,000 retail outlets.
“Gaining a return on investment from those startups is not our maximum aim, we (Singha Corporation) would like to leverage know-how and technologies from those startups so that we will be to deal better with the disruption of technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics,” said Bhurit, adding that such technology disruption would not only impact the ways of doing businesses, but also change the world.
Vorapat Chavananikul, managing director of Singha Ventures, said the company was interested in investing in promising startups - in Thailand and abroad - in its core business areas. These comprise consumer products (foods, beverages and packaging), retail and logistics, and enterprise solutions, as well as healthcare and renewable energy.
He said that during the past year, Singha Ventures has invested in two funds. These are Kejora Ventures, Southeast Asia’s biggest technology ecosystem with its headquarters in Jakarta, which has invested in more than 29 startups; and Vertex Ventures from Singapore, a network of experts in technology and venture capital from all over the world. They can create a good return of 2.5 to three times the initial investment so far, Vorapat said.