Southeast Asian logistics firm Ninja Van raising $60 million for expansion: sources

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Southeast Asian last-mile logistics provider Ninja Van is raising at least $60 million in its latest fundraising round, two sources said, as the Singapore-based company charts an aggressive expansion in key regional markets.

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Last-mile delivery companies are shaping up as a new investment front as the likes of Amazon AMZN.O and Alibaba Group BABA.N expand in undeveloped markets such as Southeast Asia - home to 600 million people and one of the world's fastest-growing Internet regions.

Emerging markets-focused private equity firm Abraaj Group, the lead investor in Ninja Van’s $30 million fund raising in 2016, is participating in the new series C funding along with other investors, sources said.

Ninja Van’s chief executive and co-founder, Lai Chang Wen, told Reuters last month the company was in fund raising talks but he declined to provide details.

Investment in supply chain and logistics tech start-ups is expanding rapidly. In a report late last year, research firm CB Insights was projecting that $5.3 billion would be invested globally across 315 deals in 2016, double the previous year’s $2.5 billion.

The sources, who declined to be named as news of the funding is not public, said Ninja Van tapped Goldman Sachs to work on the fund raising.

Goldman Sachs and Abraaj declined to comment.

Ninja Van, which says its proprietary technology and algorithms optimize routes and fleet management, officially launched its operations in Thailand in August. It has a presence in six countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“One of our first expansion plans, which is under way at the moment, is expanding our coverage in Southeast Asia. So in every one of these countries we are gunning for 100 percent coverage,” Lai Chang Wen, chief executive and co-founder, told Reuters in an interview last month.

He said that would involve expanding operations to smaller cities and locations such as Indonesia’s Papua region. Investors in Ninja Van’s previous fund raising round included Monk’s Hill Ventures and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group.

Southeast Asia has many logistical hurdles such as a huge number of islands that make up the Philippines and Indonesia, or Jakarta’s paralyzing traffic. The logistics industry is highly fragmented with a number of local players jostling for market share.

Over the past two years, other firms have also raised funds, including Bangkok-headquartered ecommerce services provider aCommerce and Singapore’s Anchanto, which provides logistics technology.

Ninja Van is profitable in some of its markets, Lai said last month, and it is eyeing overall profitability across all markets.

“As much as I would like to say we can be profitable next year, but we think it will be at least two years from now,” Lai said.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Neil Fullick