Venture capital funding in Southeast Asia at record: industry

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Funding by venture capital (VC) firms in Southeast Asian start-ups has risen to a record so far this year, surpassing the total investments made in 2017, industry data showed.

Venture capital investments jumped to $3.16 billion over the first eight months of this year, up 16 percent from $2.72 billion for all of last year, the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association said on Monday.

“The environment has become much more vibrant with a number of players pouring money into the sector,” Thomas Lanyi, chairman of the association, told a news conference.

Technology startups are sprouting up across Southeast Asia - home to about 640 million people - as companies seek to offer a range of services including ride-hailing, online payments and e-commerce, with consumers rapidly coming online.

Southeast Asia’s internet economy is estimated to exceed $200 billion by 2025 from an estimated $50 billion in 2017, according to a Google-Temasek report published in December.

Companies have attracted investment from local VCs such as Golden Gate Ventures and Vertex Ventures, along with global technology giants including Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

“Gradually, the lines are blurring between venture capital and private equity,” said Lanyi, who highlighted the growing size of investments.

Education, technology and healthcare sectors have been attracting huge investment from VC and private equity funds.

Singapore-headquartered Grab and Indonesia’s Go-Jek have raised billions of dollars in funding as they transform into regional consumer technology groups, after starting out as ride-hailing firms, while e-commerce companies have also mopped up huge amounts in the last few years.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Himani Sarkar