In today’s news, there were exciting times for co-working startups as one nabbed millions in investment, one unveiled a high-profile advisory council, and another was acquired by a big-name competitor.
Warburg Pincus in talks to invest in Ant Financial’s pre-IPO round (China). The US private equity firm is reportedly planning to invest in Ant Financial, Alibaba’s fintech unit that runs Alipay. The round is expected to raise at least US$8 billion due to strong demand from investors. The firm is talking to other global and Chinese investors about the fundraising, including Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek Holdings, which could value the firm at approximately US$150 billion in the run-up to a possible IPO. (Reuters)
Government empowers local authorities to road-test autonomous cars (China). The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has released guidelines for testing self-driving cars. From May 1, district officials will be given the green light to issue license plates and choose the locations for road tests, on the condition they report test results to the MIIT twice a year. (The South China Morning Post)
Property and real estate
WeWork acquires Chinese co-working space startup (China). The New York-based co-working firm announced the acquisition of competitor Naked Hub, without releasing terms of the deal. But a Bloomberg report puts the value of the deal at US$400 million. WeWork has been pushing for expansion into Asia, having purchased Singapore-based competitor SpaceMob last year. (WeWork)
Fast Five lands US$18 million investment (South Korea). Meanwhile, another co-working space startup,, received a total investment of US$18 million from Atinum Investment and Time Folio Asset Management. The firm says it’ll use the funds to open up to 20 venues this year and enhance its service platform. It also plans to enter the housing service market later this year. (e27)
LEVEL3 forms advisory board to spur startup engagement (Singapore). A co-working space, created by Unilever Foundry and Padang & Co and designed to help startups collaborate with each other, announced its new advisory board. The team comprises six top executives from firms like Google and Lazada. The firm will work with the board to identify growth opportunities. (Unilever Foundry)
Energy and greentech
Agricultural firm closes series C round led by Yi Capital (China). NongFenQi, a startup that supports agricultural producers in various ways from financial services to deliveries, announced the closing of its series C fundraise. Joining the round were Singapore’s Innoven Capital, BAI, YongHua Capital, Shunwei Capital, and ZhenFund, among others. The firm did not specify how much money was raised, but claimed it was “several billion yuan.” NongFenQi said the capital will be used for business expansion. (KrAsia)
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
New cryptocurrency exchange to open to public (Singapore). Local entrepreneur and former politician Calvin Cheng has launched AlphaBit Cryptocurrency Exchange, a digital currency trading platform in the city-state that promises zero commission and transaction fees. The platform held a private launch on April 9 for invited users, but will open its doors to the public on April 28. (ABCC)
Element raises US$12million in series A (Indonesia). The startup, which provides a platform for decentralized biometric identities for banks, hospitals and similar institutions, has closed its series A funding round. PTB Ventures and GDP Venture co-led the round. Also participating in the round are the venture capital units of two Indonesian banks, Bank BCA and Bank BRI, and Telkom Indonesia, to name a few. The firm did not say how it would use the funding. (Element)
Student-led Protege Ventures invests in AI community platform (Singapore). A student venture fund created by Kairos ASEAN and Singapore Management University announced that it will invest around US$19,000 into Nature.AI, a local platform that allows for global collaborative research into AI. (Singapore Management University)
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