Top 5 private equity deals in Singapore in 2018

A Grab vehicle is pictured in Singapore. (Photo:REUTERS/Edgar Su)

By Dionne Thompson

Mobile platform Grab Holdings dominated Singapore’s private equity landscape in 2018, while Bigo Technology’s fast-growing livestreaming platform may yet pose a challenge to Snapchat, YouTube and the other big boys. Let’s take a look at the game changers among the top private equity deals in Singapore in 2018.

1. Grab: US$2.9 billion

Singapore’s largest private equity deal in 2018 was clinched by none other than market shaker Grab Holdings. The company, which started out as a car-hire firm but has quickly branched out to become the region’s leading O2O (online-to-offline) company, raised US$2 billion from investors including Toyota Motor, OppenheimerFunds, Macquarie Group, Mirae Asset and Ping An Capital. Grab has announced its ambition to become Singapore’s superapp of choice.

Three months after announcing its US$2 billion funding, Grab unveiled a partnership
with Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors to pilot electric-vehicle programmes across
Southeast Asia. As part of this partnership, the Korean carmakers, which hope to
accelerate the adoption of their electric vehicles in the region, will invest an additional US$250 million in Grab.

“Grab is on track to raise over US$3 billion by the end of 2018. We have raised US$2.9 billion to date. We will use these investments to further Grab’s vision to be Southeast Asia’s leading everyday super app, expand our fast-growing food delivery, payments and financial services businesses as well as continue our investment in Indonesia,” a Grab spokesperson said.


Centrient Pharmaceuticals is the new name for DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals

2. DSM Sino Pharmaceuticals: US$582 million
Boston-based Bain Capital Private Equity has bought over the Singapore-headquartered
DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals for US$582 million. DSM makes antibiotics, statins and
anti-fungals, as well as pharmaceutical ingredients, and is a joint venture between
China’s Sinochem and the Dutch company Royal DSM. On 10 December, the company announced it is now known as Centrient Pharmaceuticals after the completion of the ownership change.

Ocean Financial Centre in Singapore. Source: Keppel Land

3. Ocean Financial Centre: S$537.3 million

Allianz now owns a chunk of the distinctive Ocean Financial Centre in Collyer Quay.
Formerly Ocean Building, the 43-storey Grade-A office tower at the heart of Singapore’s
financial district, is largely owned by Keppel Real Estate Investment Trust.

Allianz paid S$537.3 million (US$392 million) for its 20 per cent  stake in the building, as part of the insurance and asset management company’s plan to gain real-estate exposure in Southeast Asia.

Tat Hong Holdings, a supplier of cranes and heavy equipment. Source: Tat Hong

4. Tat Hong: S$414 million
Crane supplier Tat Hong Holdings delisted from the Singapore Stock Exchange in July,
after a privatisation exercise led by the family of CEO Roland Ng and the private equity
arm of Standard Chartered. The final buyout offer valued Tat Hong at S$414 million
(US$302 million), and secured Standard Chartered Private Equity a 31% stake in the


Bigo Technology, a mobile Internet company that focuses on video broadcast and VoIP related product and services. Source: Bigo

5. Bigo: US$272 million
Big plans are in store for Singapore-headquartered Bigo Technology, which operates the
live-streaming platform Bigo Live. Bigo’s Chinese parent, the Nasdaq-listed YY Inc, a
Chinese-language live streaming social media platform, this year injected a further
US$272 million into the video-based Bigo. The move prompted speculation that YY has
grand plans for the platform, essentially its global spin-off, to take on Snapchat, YouTube
and Facebook Live.