Semiconductor Transactions by ASEAN-Based Investors

Semiconductor Transactions by ASEAN-Based Investors

Investors based in ASEAN—Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an economic union of 10 nations in Southeast Asia—have invested $18.3 billion in the semiconductor industry between 2020 and Q2 2023. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the investment activity trend, which decreased between 2020 and 2021, then increased in 2022.

The data set analyzed focuses on capital deployment, transaction types, and geographical distribution. By analyzing the data and trends from 2020 to Q2 2023, this report reviews the dynamic landscape of the sector.

Semiconductor Transactions by ASEAN-Based Investors

Semiconductors are specialized devices that provide the main architecture for electronic products. Some of the most important semiconductor applications include:

  • Consumer and industrial electronics: consumer electronics include televisions and mobile phones, whereas industrial devices span the length of manufacturing plants.
  • Wireless infrastructure: a collection of various communication devices, connectivity standards, and connectivity solutions that work together to provide wireless networks to users.
  • Servers, data centers, and storage: integrated systems that provide resources, data services, and telecommunication and storage systems.
  • Automotive: includes industries associated with the production, wholesaling, retailing, and maintenance of motor vehicles.
  • ASEAN-based investors invested $18.3 billion over 148 deals, with an average deal size of $124 million.
  • Capital deployment peaked in Q1 2021, with the highest average deal size of $550 million.
  • The most active year for deal flow was 2021, with approximately 51 deals with $8.61 billion accounting for the highest investments made, 24 of which were in Q3. This accounts for 35% of the deals between Q1 2020 and Q2 2023.
  • Mergers and acquisitions were the driver of the deal count, attributing 67% of the transactions recorded amounting to $12.2 billion of the total deal value. This may indicate that the highly competitive landscape is driving the large semiconductor players to enhance their capabilities, grow market share, and gain access to new technologies. It could also be a direct result of the decrease in technology stock valuations leading to a search for value through acquisition.
  • Approximately 15% of the transactions conducted were by private equity firms with $2.7 billion deployed. 
  • A significant amount of capital, $1.5 billion, was deployed into venture capital investment by Southeast Asian investors. Despite the smaller ticket sizes, these transactions contributed to 8% of the capital deployed in the sector.
  • ASEAN-based investors made 76% of the investments in foreign companies such as Germany ($5.3 billion), China ($4.4 billion), and Malaysia ($4.2 billion).
  • Investments in the USA ($3.1 billion) represent 17% of total investments.
  • The remaining 7% were into Mexico, Singapore, and others. 
In conclusion, M&A consolidation and appetite for foreign investments by ASEAN-based investors in the semiconductor industry is evident. Although there has been a decrease in investments in the first half of 2023, as confidence in the market grows, scale and consolidation are essential for companies to compete effectively. The industry, market growth, and high returns will attract more investments in the space.

Cross Border Investments: The Middle East and China

The Middle East and China

This report investigates cross-border investments made between the Middle East and China since 2020. The Middle East serves as a strategic economic hub due to the strength of the energy sector and geographic positioning. Countries like the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have held strong historic ties to the West, but are experiencing increased levels of economic relations with China. With current oil and gas shortages and rapidly increasing prices, the Middle East will continue to be a valuable economic battleground.

Capital deployed by Chinese-based investors in the Middle East focused on early-stage companies, with 81% of deals in the sector occurring in venture capital transactions. This highlights the desire to invest in the future growth of the region.
Many deals in the sector are unannounced, so this data may under-represent actual deal volume and size. This report outlines the type, deal count, dollar volume, and industries of Chinese investments in Middle Eastern companies. 

Chinese Investors Capital Market Activity: Middle Eastern Companies

Since 2020, 132 cross-border deals were announced between Chinese investors and Middle Eastern-based companies, in which a total of $9.7 billion was deployed. The chart below shows the deal count and capital raised in this cross-border category.

  • Deal count within the sector remained consistently ranged between 10 and 20 deals per quarter, with a mean value of $7.35 million. Chinese investors’ mean value of deals with Middle Eastern companies has increased over time, showing an increased appetite to invest in the Middle East.
  • The graph excludes the $4.31 billion secondary investment into Saudi Aramco (pipeline business) conducted by China Merchant Capital and Silk Round Fund, as well as a syndicate of other institutional investors including BlackRock, which skews the data.
  • Capital deployment peaked in Q1 2021 with a total of $4.74 billion, including the secondary transaction into Saudi Aramco (pipeline business), and over 14 investments. In 2020, Q1, which largely occurred before the pandemic, was the next most active period.
  • Information technology was a leading sector for deal counts conducted by Chinese investors in Middle Eastern companies. Over 45% of transactions in the categories were in the information technology sector, though it received less than 13% of capital deployment.
  • The energy sector received the most significant capital deployment of over 44%, mostly due to the Saudi Aramco transaction.
  • The health care sector received significant capital, 27%, through 27% of deals conducted by Chinese investors. This shows the high level of interest that Chinese investors have in the Middle Eastern health care sector.
  • Chinese investors deployed $3.37 billion into venture capital deals in the Middle East since 2020 in over 107 transactions. Of the total deal flow, 36% went into later-stage venture capital deals while early-stage venture capital and seed investments received 34% and 11% of the deal count, respectively.
  • The secondary deals sector received the most significant capital deployment of over 45%, mostly due to the Saudi Aramco transaction, but contributed to less than 5% of the total deal count.

Investor Spotlight: MSA Capital

The Company

MSA Capital, formally known as Magic Stone Alternative Investments, was founded in 2014 and has made 127 investments. MSA Capital is headquartered in Beijing, China, and invests in global companies from seed to early growth phases.

  • MSA Capital completed 10 deals since 2020 with Middle Eastern companies.
  • MSA Capital has an industry focus on apparel and accessories, commercial services, healthcare technology, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, retail, and software.
  • The firm’s median capital invested is $15.6 million and has deployed capital into 53 companies in the last 12 months.
The expansion of capital market activity between the Middle East and China is something that firms in both regions will help drive growth in global markets. Large energy deals dominated total capital deployment by Chinese investors into Middle Eastern companies since 2020. However, over 80% of deals in the sector were in venture capital deals, demonstrating the demand to invest in the future of the region. J&A expects the capital market activity between China and the Middle East to increase over time as these emerging markets continue to develop.

Fintech Capital Market Activity in the Middle East and Southeast Asia

Fintech Capital Market Activity in the Middle East and Southeast Asia

The fintech industry in the Middle East and Southeast Asia is poised for strong growth. Innovative payment processors, financial services companies, and digital transaction management platforms are already disrupting the traditional finance sector and are gaining traction in domestic and international financial markets.

Blockchain companies and investments dominated Southeast Asian fintech capital market activity while Middle Eastern investors preferred later-stage investments within the sector. Jahani and Associates (J&A) forecast the continued expansion of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian fintech companies and capital market activity.
J&A is an international investment bank headquartered in New York City with offices and operations across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Central America. J&A specialized in cross-border capital market activity between the regions in which we operate.

  • USA-based fintech companies conducted significantly more capital market activity than their Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian counterparts in 2021. The abundance of capital has accelerated the growth of USA-based fintech companies, but a burgeoning set of growth companies in these emerging markets will drive global fintech capital market activity in 2022 and beyond.
  • USA-based fintech companies conducted 2,978 deals in 2021 with a total of $178 billion and a median deal size of $60 million. Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian fintech companies conducted 244 and 411 deals respectively and raised a combined total of $21 billion in 2021.
  • USA-based investors have been more active in the fintech sector than Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian investors in 2021 in absolute terms. However, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian investors conducted significantly higher deal counts in proportion to the number of fintech company deal counts in their domestic markets, demonstrating an appetite for investments.
  • Average check size deployed by Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian investors in fintech deals in 2021 was significantly lower than USA-based investors. Early-stage companies in the emerging markets are receiving significant deal flow showing the growth potential of these regions.
  • Community management platforms, which include several key blockchain companies, experienced the largest capital deployment in the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian fintech markets in 2021. Grab dominated deal size with a $5 billion PIPE conducted in December 2021.
  • Payment processing services and financial services are growing sectors in both emerging markets and received approximately $5 billion and $2.6 billion respectively. Vietnam Payment Solution conducted a $250 million round in July 2021, the largest transaction in the payment processing sector.

2021 ASEAN Fintech Deals by Month

Fintech companies headquartered in Southeast Asia conducted significant capital market activity in Q4 of 2021. The sector has produced consistent deal flow despite strict economic lockdowns and travel restrictions. Blockchain transaction dominated deal count among the Southeast Asian fintech market. The growth of early-stage venture capital deals in the sector highlights the emergence of new companies in the market and the growth potential of the Southeast Asian fintech sector.

  • $17.28 billion was deployed into Southeast Asian fintech companies across 411 deals in 2021 with a median deal size of $5.3 million. December 2021 saw the largest capital deployment of over $5 billion representing approximately 29% of capital deployed over the period.
  • The largest deal in the sector was the $750 million acquisition of OVO, a developer and operator of payment and financial services platforms Grab, which was announced on October 4, 2021.
  • Cryptocurrency dominated deal count among the Southeast Asian fintech market with 351 deals, or approximately 80%, in the sector where cryptocurrency-related deals focused on seed and early-stage venture capital funding.
  • Approximately 34% of capital raised by Southeast Asian fintech companies was deployed into early-stage companies. This showcases the emergence of new companies, an increase in competition, and the growth potential of the sector.
  • Mergers and acquisitions, including the acquisition of OVO, raised 21% of capital invested into Southeast Asia despite only seven deals being conducted.
  • Sixteen Southeast Asia fintech companies raised late-stage venture capital funding, demonstrating the emergence of mature companies and a well-balanced funding ecosystem.

2021 ASEAN Deal Spotlight: Alami – Sharia Compliant Financing for SMEs

The Company

Alami is an Indonesia-based fintech platform designed to serve small to mid-sized businesses with access to sharia-compliant financing organizations. Alami’s platform provides in-depth data analytics to businesses regarding financing from various institutions allowing them to make informed and up-to-date transactions.

Recent Fundraising

  • Alami completed a Series A round of $17.5 million on August 13, 2021, at an undisclosed valuation.
  • Quona Capital and EV Growth led the round with Dubai International Financial Center and other undisclosed investors participating.
  • Alami had previously raised $24.7 million through three rounds of seed funding.

2021 Middle East Fintech Deals by Month

Fintech companies headquartered in the Middle East have conducted notable capital market activity over 2021 with peaks in April and December. The sector has produced consistent deal flow despite strict economic lockdowns and travel restrictions that have eased and resurged over the year. J&A forecasts continued growth in 2021 Q4 activity into 2022 and beyond.

  • In 2021, $4.66 billion was deployed into Middle Eastern companies across 251 deals, with a median deal size of $3.1 million.
  • November 2021 saw the largest deal count with 25, but low capital deployment of $400 million representing approximately 8% of capital deployed over the period.
  • Notable deals in the sector include the PIPE, private investment into a public company, and subsequent reverse merger of Pagaya, an online lending platform provider, on September 15, 2021.
  • Approximately 30% of capital raised by Middle Eastern fintech companies was deployed into early-stage companies.
  • Middle Eastern Fintech companies conducted notable IPOs in 2021. The largest IPO was that of the Saudi Stock Exchange (SAU: 1111), on December 8, 2021, in which over $1 billion was raised.
  • Mergers and acquisitions, as well as reverse mergers, accounted for 18% of capital market activity in the space. The acquisition of Simplex, the Israeli bitcoin payment processing company, by Nuvei, was one of the largest Middle Eastern fintech acquisitions in 2021.

2021 Middle East Deal Spotlight: Tarabut Gateway Dubai Banking Regtech

The Company

Tarabut Gateway is a Dubai-based financial technology and software development company that has created a platform to regulate the banking sector. The platform is designed to connect a regional network of banks and other fintech companies through a universal applications programming interface (API). Tarabut’s platform utilizes the API to assist in the transfer of data and to create a greater level of integration within the finance sector in the region.

Recent Fundraising

  • Tarabut Gateway completed a pre-Series A round of $12 million on November 2, 2021, at an undisclosed valuation.
  • Tiger Global Management led the round with Dubai International Financial Centre and other undisclosed investors participating.
  • Tarabut Gateway had previously raised $13 million through seed funding in February 2021, which was also led by Tiger Global Management.

2022: What to expect this year

Southeast Asia and the Middle East are two of the world’s best-performing emerging markets. Financial markets are becoming increasingly sophisticated in these regions and the disruption of the traditional financial sector is a trend that will continue and accelerate in 2022.
The cryptocurrency sector experienced a high level of deal flow in Southeast Asia in 2021. Later-stage Middle Eastern fintech companies saw significantly larger capital deployment than early-stage competitors.
Fintech companies should be mindful of the commercial and financial opportunities available in these regions and the appetite that investors in the markets possess for early-stage deals. Companies operating within these markets will continue to grow and become attractive acquisition targets for strategic acquirers looking to enter the market.
J&A forecasts the continued expansion of capital market activity within the Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern fintech markets.

Logistic Technology in Southeast Asia

Logistic Technology in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is one of the world’s best-performing emerging markets. The combined GDP of the region has grown from $29 billion in 1970 to $2.97 trillion in 2020, a remarkable 10,116% increase. International trade has been a driving force behind the region’s development. Several Southeast Asian countries rank among the most open to trade with the highest GDPs per capita of any nation.

Southeast Asia is strategically poised to link the manufacturing centers of the East to the consumer base in the West. This article outlines trade in Southeast Asia, the key role of technology within the sectors, and capital market activity in Southeast Asian logistic technology

Market Overview

In 2020, $2.8 trillion of international trade occurred in Southeast Asia. The region has increased the quantity of internal trade through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and strengthened external trade.

  • Southeast Asia’s largest trading partner is the Asia Pacific region, which compromises over $1 trillion in trade annually.
  • The United States and the European Union are significant partners. Over $300 billion of trade was conducted between each of these regions and Southeast Asia.
  • Internal trade between members of ASEAN (which includes Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar, and Cambodia) accounted for $600 billion, or 22% of total international trade.

The logistics market in Southeast Asia is being driven by technological innovation. Logistics technology companies increase the speed, ease of use, and transparency of the supply chain process for customers, businesses, and logistics companies. The continued development of the region’s logistic technology will be a key factor in the market’s future growth.

Capital Market Activity in Southeast Asia – Logistic Technology

  • Capital deployed in the freight technology sector increased 17-fold between 2014 and 2021 and was largely insignificant before 2014 in Southeast Asia.
  • More than $27 billion was deployed in the sector across 302 deals, with an average deal size of $9 million. Deal count and capital deployment have increased steadily over time, and the first three quarters of 2021 have seen the most significant market activity over the period.
  • Ninja Van is a last-mile logistics technology platform that has conducted several investment rounds over the period. The most recent raise was a $578 million Series E round, in which B Capital Group, Brunei Investment Agency, Burda Principal Investments, Carmenta Management, and five other groups invested.
  • Late-stage venture capital deals represented 71% of capital deployed in the sector. This shows the abundance of growth-stage companies in the market.
  • Mergers and acquisitions represented only 5% of capital deployed since 2010 in the sector. Most acquisitions have been conducted by large logistics corporations, but the limited activity shows a lack of consolidation in the market.
  • Just 6% of capital deployment went to early-stage venture capital deals. This statistic shows that early-stage companies are present in the sector, but funding is difficult to acquire.
Southeast Asia is one of the world’s best-performing emerging markets, and trade has provided the basis for the region’s growth. Logistic technology will play a critical role in improving the efficiency and transparency of supply chains and the delivery process. Southeast Asia logistics firms will need to remain globally competitive and logistics technology will allow them to do so. J&A forecasts an increase in capital market activity in the Southeast Asia logistics technology market in 2022 and beyond.

ASEAN Overview & Highlights

ASEAN Overview & Highlights

ASEAN: Size, Growth, and Relevance (1 of 4)

This is the first part of J&A’s ASEAN series. In it, we will investigate the ASEAN market and economy, its importance, its capital markets, its position in global trade, and finally its integration with other major players like the USA and China.

ASEAN Background

The Southeast Asian region has grown to global prominence over the last 20 years. Economies in Southeast Asia have been growing rapidly due to trade openness and their position in the global economic trade balances. The region is strategically positioned close to the emerging superpowers of China and India. Businesses should be aware of the growth potential and opportunities present in the region. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an economic and political union, has empowered the region and facilitated the conditions necessary for rapid development. The ASEAN union includes Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, and Myanmar.

The Importance of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has demonstrated a remarkable model for economic growth and development that sets the region apart from other developing markets. The region is strategically positioned as a gateway to both China and India and boosts openness to trade and business that is no longer guaranteed in Hong Kong. J&A forecasts a continued expansion of the region’s economic and strategic importance as a link between the rising superpowers of India and China and the companies and consumers of the United States of America.

ASEAN was formed in 1967 to prevent a power vacuum caused by rapid decolonization and foster cooperation in the region. The official ASEAN declaration states that the objectives of the organization are to accelerate economic growth and social progress, and preserve cultural traditions in the region through cooperation and partnership. Regional peace, the rule of law, increased education, and cooperation in agriculture and industry are additional goals.

  • ASEAN has been successful in promoting peace in the region throughout the transition from colonialism and communism towards free-market economies.
  • Trade within the region has grown remarkably from $790 billion in 2000 to $2.8 trillion in 2019.
  • GDP growth in ASEAN has regularly exceeded the global average, resulting in a regional economic growth of 10,116% between 1970 and 2020.


 GDP Growth in ASEAN

  • The combined economy of ASEAN economies has grown at an average rate of 9.3% annually between 1970 and 2020.
  • In 1970 combined ASEAN gross domestic product (GDP) stood at approximately $29 billion, making the region one of the poorest in the world. In comparison, the GDP of South Africa and Brazil in 1970 were $48 billion and $42 billion respectively.
  • The member states of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand’s economies are among a handful of emerging markets whose GDP per capita has grown at a rate of at least 3.5% annually over the last 50 years.
  • Additionally Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam have experienced at least 5% GDP per capita growth over the last 20 years, making the region home to eight of the top-performing emerging economies globally.

ASEAN Forecast Economic Performance in 2021

  • ASEAN markets are expected to rebound strongly in the second half of 2021 as the region and the world emerges from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are forecasted to experience GDP growth in excess of 6% for 2021.
  • The economies of Singapore and Indonesia are expected to expand at a rate of between 4% and 5%, which remains significant given the size of these markets.
  • Countries that rely heavily on tourism, such as Brunei and Thailand, are expected to recover more slowly than their other regional counterparts.
  • Myanmar is the regional outlier, with political turmoil resulting in negative growth forecasts.

ASEAN Countries are High Performers

  • ASEAN economies led the emerging markets in regional GDP growth between 2011 and 2019. The region was able to maintain consistent growth rates of between 4.6% and 6% over the period.
  • Economic diversification in Southeast Asia resulted in more consistent GDP growth in comparison to other regions that may be dependent on specific industries such as oil and gas, or heavily linked to the performance of neighboring developed markets.
  • In 2020, ASEAN economies contracted by 6% due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the region’s openness to trade. Southeast Asia is expected to recover at a significantly faster rate than regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean due to effective vaccine rollouts and growth from trade partners like the USA and China.

ASEAN Governments’ Debt-to-GDP Ratio Matches Similar Markets

  • Lower debt-to-GDP ratios give governments more margin for investment into infrastructure and public spending, lower interest payments on public debt, and better sovereign debt ratings.
  • Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia have maintained low debt-to-GDP ratios of under 50% despite the size of their economies and populations.
  • Singapore has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in Southeast Asia. Singapore, however, has the most developed infrastructure in the region, and so would not require large public spending.

We hope that you enjoyed this introduction to ASEAN. We reviewed the organization’s history and economic performance, which provide the basis for the region’s rise to global prominence. The region’s economic growth has been spurred by strong capital markets and high openness to trade. Southeast Asia is a critical market to link the rising superpowers of the East with the spending power of the West. The economic and geopolitical integration of the region will enhance Southeast Asia’s global prominence and economic growth.

ASEAN: Capital Markets and Investment Banking (2 of 4)

This part of J&A’s ASEAN series focuses on the capital markets of the region, their maturity, and their activity. Capital market activity has increased steadily in the ASEAN region over the last 20 years. The number of capital market transactions has more than doubled between 2018 and 2020. Of the capital deployed by ASEAN investors, 56% occurred within mergers and acquisitions. This highlights the appetite for inorganic expansion and the intention for companies in Southeast Asia to grow geographically and into new market segments. Singapore remains the key regional market and houses the largest and most active institutional investors.

  • Capital markets are maturing in Southeast Asia. Capital deployed and deal count have been increasing steadily over time. Capital deployed by ASEAN investors in the first half of 2021 ($19.3 billion) has already exceeded total deployment in 2020 ($18.8 billion).
  • A deal count conducted between 2018 and 2020 increased by 147%, from 144 to 356 announced deals. In the first half of 2021, 244 capital market transactions were announced, with a strong capital market growth forecast as the region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The six largest institutional investment firms, in terms of assets under management, are based in Singapore. The sovereign wealth funds Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) are the two largest investors in the ASEAN region. The GIC has a total of 840 active investments and $500 billion in assets under management. Temasek Holdings has a total of $300 billion in assets under management and a total of 336 active portfolio investments.
  • Temasek Holdings has been the most active Southeast Asian investor in 2020 and 2021. The firm conducted a total of 30 investments between Q3 of 2020 and Q3 of 2021.
  • The top seven most active 2020 and 2021 investors in Southeast Asia are based in Singapore and include early-stage venture capital firms that made 25 investments in the period.

Mergers and Acquisitions Dominate Capital Markets in ASEAN

  • In 2020, 56% of total capital deployed by ASEAN investors occurred within mergers and acquisitions. Significant mergers and acquisitions activity highlights the expansion intentions of Southeast Asia firms.
  • As companies outgrow their markets and become comfortable with international expansion, investment banks will see increased opportunities in M&A advisory and acquisition financing.
  • Four sectors that illustrate this trend well are financial services, telecommunications, energy, and natural resources.

Competition is Normalizing ASEAN Equity Returns

Return on average equity of Asia-Pacific Banking has been drifting down toward the global average

  • APAC emerging markets include the 10 ASEAN countries as well as rising superpowers such as China and India.
  • APAC emerging markets have experienced outsized returns on equity investments over the period from 2010 to 2018. As these markets, and particularly China, have become more accessible to international investments, returns have trended towards global averages.
  • Returns among APAC developing nations are still higher than in APAC developed nations such as Australia, Canada, and Russia.
  • However, ASEAN returns are normalizing with parts of the world as growth slows and the region slows from capitalizing on its many competitive advantages.

Investment Banking in ASEAN

  • There are currently 91 registered investment banks operating in ASEAN. Over 80% of these institutions are headquartered outside of Southeast Asia with regional headquarters in Singapore. Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, and Bank of America are the three most active investment banks in the region and are all headquartered in North America.
  • The expansion of international investment banks into Southeast Asia is driven by strong regional macroeconomic growth and positive investor environments.
  • The level of investment sophistication in Southeast Asia differentiates the region from other developing markets.

ASEAN Technology Companies are Globally Competitive and Their Strategic Geographic Access to the USA, China, and India Makes High-Growth Companies in the Region Prime Targets for Investors

With uncertainty surrounding the role of Hong Kong and Taiwan, Singapore has become the gateway to the East. Capital market activity in the region is dominated by institutional investors from the city-state. The strength of mergers and acquisition activity by Southeast Asia companies is a sign of the expansion ambitions of the region. International investors and companies seeking growth partners should be mindful of the continued expansion and strategic position of the ASEAN markets. J&A forecasts an increase in capital market activity as nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam develop.

We hope that you enjoyed this overview of ASEAN capital markets. In the next section of this analysis, we will review the region’s position on global trade. The region’s economic growth has been spurred by strong capital markets and high openness to trade. Southeast Asia is a critical market to link the rising superpowers of the East with the spending power of the West. The economic and geopolitical integration of the region will enhance Southeast Asia’s global prominence and economic growth.

ASEAN: Global Trade (3 of 4)

Part three of J&A’s ASEAN series focuses on the region’s trade openness and trade advantages. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has facilitated the rapid economic growth and development of the region. The increase in trade between member states and other regions internationally is a critical factor for this growth and success. Singapore acts as a regional trade hub and is ranked first in global exports per capita and third in openness to trade. J&A forecasts continued growth in trade in Southeast Asia and the continual rise of the region in global prominence.

Openness to Trade

The trade openness index is calculated through the sum of a nation’s exports and imports as a share of the total GDP as a percentage. Trade openness indicates the strong influence of trade on domestic industries.

Trade openness spurs economic growth and encourages foreign direct investment. It also promotes competitive markets and allows consumers access to a wider range of products at competitive prices.

Trade openness can negatively impact domestic businesses and industries that are not competitive with large, multinational companies. This is particularly common in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing. Countries with high trade openness indexes rely heavily on international business cycles and may experience highly volatile economic conditions.

  • Trade within Southeast Asia has grown remarkably from $790 billion in 2000 to $2.8 trillion in 2019.
  • Five of the 10 ASEAN nations—Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—have a trade openness index of over 100%.
  • Intra-ASEAN trade accounted for 22.5% of total merchandising imports and exports.
  • ASEAN’s largest trading partners in 2019 were China, with 22% of imports and 14% of exports, the European Union, with 21.5% of imports and 13% of exports, and the United States, with 8% of imports and 13% of exports.

 Key Market: Singapore

  • Singapore ranks first globally on per capita exports, $52,700 annually, and fifth globally for imports per capita, $56,300 annually. The nation has a trade openness index of 317%, the third-highest globally.
  • Singapore is the regional trade hub of Southeast Asia and accounts for 27.5% of the region’s total exports.
  • The nation had a 79% manufacturing products to total exports ratio, and a 74% manufacturing products to imports ratio, showing the reliance of domestic industry on trade.
  • Top imports into Singapore include electrical equipment (21%), minerals (22%), machinery and appliances (13%), and precious metals (6%).
  • Leading exports from Singapore include electrical equipment (28%), minerals (15%), machinery and appliances (13%), and instruments and apparatus (7%).

Deregulation Has Boosted the ASEAN Economy

  • ASEAN nations have reduced internal and international tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTB) in an effort to stimulate trade in the region.
  • Average regional tariffs have decreased from 25% in 1990 to 7% in 2010, a period in which ASEAN nations also experienced large real GDP growth.

Openness to trade and ease of business have been vital contributing elements to the growth of Southeast Asian economies such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The region is ideally positioned to act as a hub for trade among the emerging superpowers of India and China and developed markets such as Australia and the USA. J&A forecasts continued growth of regional and international trade in ASEAN, which will further spur the region’s economic and geopolitical rise.

We hope that you enjoyed this introduction to ASEAN. We reviewed the organization’s history and economic performance, which provides the basis for the region’s rise to global prominence. The region’s economic growth has been spurred by strong capital markets and high openness to trade. Southeast Asia is a critical market to link the rising superpowers of the East with the spending power of the West. The economic and geopolitical integration of the region will enhance Southeast Asia’s global prominence and economic growth.

ASEAN: Economic Integration with the USA, MENA, and China (4 of 4)

This is the final part of J&A’s ASEAN series, wherein we will investigate the integration of ASEAN economies into the rest of the world. ASEAN will prove a key geopolitical and economic battleground for the United States and China.

The region’s geographic positioning, openness to trade, and expeditious economic emergence have made the ASEAN a prominent economic and political force. Southeast Asia is closely integrated with the developed nations of the European Union, the USA, and Australia through trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and business. China, however, is now the region’s closest trade partner and has increased its share in FDI to exceed that of the USA. Economic integration between ASEAN and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has strengthened through trade and capital market activity. J&A forecasts the continued rise to global prominence of the ASEAN as a hub for trade positioned to connect the manufacturing of the East with the spending power of the West.

  • Southeast Asia is strategically positioned to act as a link between the rising superpowers of India and China and established markets such as the USA, Canada, and Australia.
  • Intra-ASEAN trade has increased at a rate of 9.5% annually from $608 billion in 2013 to $1.15 trillion in 2020.
  • ASEAN’s biggest trading partner is China, which conducted a total trade, consisting of both imports and exports, of $777 billion with the region in 2020. The share of ASEAN exports to China has increased from 3.7% in total exports in 2005 to 13.9% in 2018. The share of Chinese imports in the region has increased from 5.4% to 20.5% of imports in the same period.
  • ASEAN conducted a total of $358 billion in trade with the US. The share of imports and exports with the US and the EU as a percentage of total trade has declined significantly between 2005 and 2018 and signals the global rise of Asian markets.
  • Trade between Southeast Asia and MENA has increased at a compound annual growth rate of 8.9% between 2013 and 2020 and now accounts for $296 billion in ASEAN total trade.

Southeast Asia is strategically positioned to act as a link between the rising superpowers of India and China and established markets such as the USA, Canada, and Australia.

  • Trade surpluses in ASEAN have been driven by nations’ rapid increase of production in agriculture and manufacturing. In addition, the region now has a globally competitive services sector.
  • The $1,432 billion of regional exports in 2018 exceeded the $1,384 billion spent on imports in the same year. Thus, a total regional trade surplus of $48 billion was achieved in 2018.
  • Large trade surpluses ensure a continual injection of capital into an economy and grant authorities the ability to increase foreign reserves or strengthen local currencies depending on policy preferences.

ASEAN Receives FDI from Diverse Nations and Growingly in China

  • Countries in Southeast Asia have historically received large amounts of FDI from developed nations such as the USA, Japan, and members of the European Union.
  • China and Hong Kong have recently displaced the USA in the region’s top five FDI contributors and jointly contributed over 13% of the region’s FDI in 2018. The geopolitical significance of China’s influence through FDI and trade, which now eclipse the influence of the USA, should not be understated.
  • Intra-ASEAN FDI has grown substantially and contributed approximately 16% of FDI in 2018. Developed nations in the region are contributing large quantities to stimulate growth in neighboring markets.

Southeast Asia is strategically positioned as a global trade and investment hub. The economies of Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand could serve as a springboard for western companies to access the rising superpowers of India and China.

The level of Chinese influence in the region through trade and FDI will leave many in the USA weary. However, companies from North America should spot opportunities now available to them to access Chinese customers through the ASEAN markets. The increase in economic integration between the ASEAN through trade and FDI is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the region’s economic growth and one that many other developing regions have struggled to emulate. J&A forecasts the continued rise of ASEAN prominence through economic integration.

We hope that you enjoyed this introduction to ASEAN. We reviewed the organization’s history and economic performance, which provide the basis for the region’s rise to global prominence.
The region’s economic growth has been spurred by strong capital markets and high openness to trade. Southeast Asia is a critical market to link the rising superpowers of the East with the spending power of the West. The economic and geopolitical integration of the region will enhance Southeast Asia’s global prominence and economic growth.

Cross Border Capital Markets Report: SEA Investors and USA Companies in 2020

Cross Border Capital Markets Report: SEA Investors and USA Companies in 2020

This report highlights investments made by Southeast Asian (SEA) investors into USA companies throughout 2020. Only announced deals are analyzed in this report. This report outlines the type, deal count, dollar volume, and industries of deals conducted by Southeast Asian investors into USA companies. Singtel Innov8 is part of the investor spotlight feature, and Stack Overflow is analyzed as the deal spotlight.

Southeast Asian Investors and USA Deals: Deal Count and Volume

In 2020, 248 institutions and individual investors from Southeast Asia closed 373 transactions in USA companies and invested a total of $32 billion. The following graphs show deal count and deal amounts in 2020.

FIGURE 1: Deals by SEA investors in USA Companies Investments Over Time

Data provided by Pitchbook, accessed March 4, 2021

Number of Deals by SEA investors in USA Companies: 2020

  • Compared with private equity firms and corporations, SEA venture capital firms closed the most deals in USA companies. In 2020, deal counts were 10% lower compared to 2019, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Transaction volume decreased by 30% as a direct result of the pandemic in Q2 of 2020. Transaction volume increased in Q3 and Q4.
  • The number of venture capital deals in Q2 did not significantly decrease as a result of the pandemic. However, M&A and private equity deals did decrease in Q2 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Dollars Invested by SEA Investors in USA Companies: 2020

  • In 2020, 96 USA companies raised a total of $7 billion from SEA investors, for an average deal size of $73 million in Q1. Despite the decrease of deal counts in Q2, 68 USA companies raised $19 billion from SEA investors for an average deal size of $289 million.
  • Private equity firms from SEA closed major investments into USA companies in Q2 at the height of pandemic tensions at a total of $14 billion.
  • In Q3 and Q4, a total of 177 companies raised approximately $4 billion in each quarter from SEA investors.

SEA Investors and USA Investments: Investments by Industry

SEA investors’ capital infusion in USA companies are predominantly seen in fast-changing and popular verticals like fintech, AI, machine learning, and technology, media, and telecom (TMT). Most of the investments in these verticals are SaaS-based solutions.

FIGURE 2: Capital Breakdown

Data provided by Pitchbook, accessed March 4, 2021
  • Ultimate Kronos Group in the $11 billion leveraged buyout round was the largest deal closed by a North American company in which an SEA investor participated in 2020. Formerly known as Ultimate Software Group, the company was acquired by Kronos through its financial sponsors Hellman & Friedman, Blackstone Group, JMI Equity, and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).
  • The following SEA investors also participated in other well-known USA companies:
    • GIC invested in Affirm, in its $510 million Series G round completed in September.
    • Temasek Holdings, a Sovereign Wealth Fund in Singapore, invested in Impossible Food in its $200 Million Series G round completed in August.

Investor Spotlight: Singtel Innov8, Singapore

Singtel Innov8, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Singtel Group, is a corporate venture capital fund based in Singapore with offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv. Singtel Innov8 invests in companies that create next-generation devices and digital content services that enhance customer experiences. Their investments are in all stages of the company’s life cycle.

Figure 3: Singtel Innov8 Investments by Industry: 2018-2020

Data provided by Pitchbook, accessed March 4, 2021
  • Singtel Innov8’s assets under management were $256 million from 2018 to 2020, and they made a total of 128 investments. To date, Singtel Innov8 has done 45 exits and maintains 45 active portfolios.
  • Singtel Innov8’s preferred ticket size is between $100 thousand to $23 million, and their preferred vertical is TMT software. They prefer minority stakes and will lead on a deal.
  • In 2020 Singtel Innov8 made 12 investments with an average deal size of $36 million.

Deal Spotlight: Stack Overflow (Cloud Tech DevOps)

Stack Overflow is a New York-based Series E company that provides an online community created to help developers learn and share their knowledge. The platform is a free and open forum that hosts a collaborative library of coding knowledge, which includes real-time interactive software, advertising opportunities, and services for technology recruiters helping users build their careers in tech.

SEA Investors Feature: Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC)

GIC is a global investment management firm established in 1981 to manage Singapore’s foreign reserves. GIC invests in public and private equity with a focus on healthcare, financials, and business services. Additionally, it focuses on natural resources, real estate, fixed income, and alternative markets including foreign exchange, commodity, and money market sectors across the globe.

  • GIC led Stack Overflow’s $85 million Series E round on July 28, 2020, putting the company’s post-money valuation at $685 million.

Most Southeast Asian investors initially invest in USA-based companies at Series C round and later. Singapore sovereign wealth funds like Temasek Holdings and venture funds such as Wavemaker Group were active investors in USA-based companies’ capital raise during 2020.

How to Perform a Disciplined Sell-Side M&A Process to Maximize Results

How to Perform a Disciplined Sell-Side M&A Process to Maximize Results

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Sell-Side M&A Process

The sell-side M&A process is long and complex. Bringing a company to market does not guarantee the company will achieve its M&A goals. The M&A process is challenging for three reasons:

  1. It is difficult to build consensus among a large number of stakeholders
  2. Gathering relevant, transparent, and adequate data is complicated, particularly in private markets
  3. The M&A process contains many steps, and within each step there are many opportunities for things to go wrong

This report contains the step-by-step guide Jahani and Associates (J&A)—an NYC-based global independent investment bank—uses to maximize results for its clients. Each step in the sell-side M&A process is driven by activities, deliverables, and solutions.

STEP 1: Preparation to Solicitation

Preparation to solicitation requires the company and their investment banker to generate the artifacts buyers need to make an offer for the company. This information includes but is not limited to financial information, the growth history of the company, intangible asset information (e.g., customer relationships and proprietary technology), and the reasons the owners are selling the business.1 This information must be woven together and organized correctly so buyers can efficiently formulate their offers.

Industry-standard deliverables, such as a confidential information memorandum (CIM) and audited financial statements, are used in this phase to market the business to potential buyers.

STEP 2: Solicitation to Indication of Interest (IOI)

This is arguably the most important part of the sell-side M&A process. Reaching the sufficient number of solicitations to ultimately find an interested buyer is difficult and incredibly important, particularly in the lower-middle and middle markets. The volume of solicitations necessary is higher than most professionals expect. The methods to generate qualified buyer leads also vary based on the industry, region, and type of investment bank (e.g., healthcare investment bank, agritech investment bank, etc.). Solicitation is initiated with a blind teaser, using a code name in lieu of the company’s name. Buyers may request more information after the teaser—at which point a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is required. J&A recommends only sending detailed material during the preparation phase to potential buyers after they have signed the NDA. For sellers to create a succinct and consistent story for all potential buyers at this stage, it is very important not to provide too much information.

Common sources of buyer solicitations include direct connections from an investment banker’s warm network, introductions and referrals from partners in the investment banker’s network, direct solicitations of qualified buyers determined from research (e.g., PitchBook), and target emails to qualified lists of buyers. Coordinating all four types of outreach is a complicated task. Figure 2 demonstrates common reasons for failure and how J&A recommends sellers and their advisors avoid them.

IOIs contain valuation ranges and general expectations of earnout. These should be negotiated as necessary to have a smooth transition from an IOI to an executable letter of intent (LOI). IOIs are nonbinding.


A site visit usually occurs while transitioning an IOI to an LOI. The visit is an opportunity for the buyer and seller to meet and conduct a deep dive into any outstanding items that need to be settled before executing an LOI. Since LOIs are legally binding, many buyers will require exclusivity after an executed LOI, which is also referred to as a “no-shop clause.” This means the seller will not be able to conduct sale-related conversations during the no-shop period and must ensure the upcoming due diligence will be satisfactory in order to close the deal.

STEP 4: LOI to Purchase Agreement, Including Due Diligence

Due diligence is often the longest part of the sell-side M&A process. Depending on the size and complexity of the deal, it may take up to 120 days.2 Due diligence is the process of affirming the information the buyer has used to make its offer and determining whether or not the company is in good standing with the relevant administrative, legal, financial, technological, security, operational, and other information in its possession.

Once due diligence is complete, executing the purchase agreement is the final step in the sell-side M&A process. These agreements can either be asset purchases or stock purchases. The purchase agreement is the binding contract where ownership officially changes hands. If due diligence went as expected, this step should be relatively simple. The changes that may affect purchase agreement negotiations are material discoveries in due diligence, economic forces, material alterations in the business’ operations, and management changes. It is very important for business activities to go according to plan during due diligence.

Problems and Solutions: Quickly Resolving Challenges Requires Deep Thinking and Preparation

Jahani and Associates collected common challenges that exist in each step of the sell-side M&A process and the best way to resolve them. It is important for M&A stakeholders to plan ahead and know where expected weaknesses may lead to exacerbated challenges.

It is imperative the investment banking team has a plan to resolve these challenges before they even arise in order to avoid disruptions or delays in the M&A process.

Preparation to Solicitation

Companies most often do not go from preparation to solicitation when seller management teams are not aligned or properly prepped for the sell-side M&A process. This can occur when multiple stakeholders are involved, particularly in companies boasting a significant capital raise. A seller may also not move to the solicitation phase due to major market forces negatively affecting business performance. If a business undergoes a change that materially reduces the company’s desired valuation, management often decides to postpone the process.

Solicitation to IOI

Fundamentally, solicitation to IOI is a sales process. Therefore, sellers and their teams are most prepared when they view this as a sales exercise. This is often the most difficult step in the process for unprofitable companies in the lower-middle market.


Moving from an IOI to LOI is a matter of negotiation and mutual understanding between the buyer and seller. A site visit is often used in between the IOI and LOI to develop a relationship between the buyers and sellers.

LOI to Purchase Agreement, Including Due Diligence

Due diligence is the process of confirming the buyer’s understanding of the business at the time they made their offer. Due diligence is time-consuming. Material information that changes the valuation and earnout identified in the LOI may be discovered during due diligence. This will be negotiated as part of the purchase agreement. Purchase agreements may be made for either cash or stock, each of which has its own tax, legal, and strategic considerations.

The Sell-Side M&A Process Is Challenging, but the Seller’s Success Will Be Maximized When a Disciplined Process Is Followed

The challenges, solutions, and KPIs in this paper are not exhaustive, but they provide an overview of the way to maximize success in sell-side M&As. It is important that all stakeholders understand the challenges they will face and how to alleviate them as quickly as possible. Establishing a consensus among stakeholders from the outset will also help mitigate any issues that may unfold. Focusing on a problem-solution-KPI framework gives transparency to the client and allows the investment banker to increase the size of their team while preserving client service and information sharing. Experience in dealing with these issues is paramount to successfully delivering M&A results, and that experience must be coupled with actionable outcomes.

Any business owner seeking to sell their business must carefully consider all these factors. Being aware of expected obstacles and how to overcome them early will significantly increase the likelihood that a company successfully completes a sell-side M&A transaction. The analysis contained herein is based on decades of experience and is included to support business owners across the world as they achieve a maximally successful exit.


In 2019, Jahani and Associates surveyed hundreds of business owners about successful and failed M&A deals, why they failed, and how those failures could have been avoided. J&A then compared these stories with its own processes and tools to determine the best way to anticipate and avoid these failures in any M&A scenario. The resulting analysis is this document that outlines common reasons for failure and how to avoid them. This document is meant to serve as a resource to business owners and other service providers to give the best strategic advice and service for their businesses or clients.


Jahani and Associates (J&A) is an independent investment bank located in New York, New York. The firm specializes in healthcare and technology and provides specialized M&A and capital markets advisory services. The combination of J&A’s unmatched skills in technology, engineering, and business operations allows the firm to create sustainable value for its clients. J&A works at the intersection of cutting-edge financial theory and business practicality. Creativity is highly valued within the firm, which allows J&A to continually improve the way businesses thrive.


1. Baird, Les, David Harding, Peter Horsley, and Shikha Dhar. “Using M&A to Ride the Tide of Disruption.” Bain & Company, January 23, 2019.

2. Buesser, Gary. “For the Investor: Internally Generated Intangible Assets.” Accessed November 22, 2019.

3. Corporate Finance Institute. “What is the No Shop Provision?” No Shop Provision. Accessed November 22, 2019.

4. Deloitte. “Cultural issues in mergers and acquisitions.” Leading through transition: Perspectives on the people side of M&A. Last modified 2009.

Enhance Your Company’s Strategic Assets to Increase Value

Enhance Your Company’s Strategic Assets to Increase Value

What are a Company’s Strategic Assets?

A company’s strategic assets sit at the intersection of tangible and intangible assets and create recurring benefits, are unique, and difficult to imitate. Such strategic assets can include intellectual property, customer relationships, proprietary business processes and algorithms, novel revenue streams, and brand value.

Why focus on strategic assets?

The definition of strategic assets is related to the accounting term goodwill, which is an intangible asset that results from the acquisition of a company at a premium value. The premium is the amount an acquiring company pays for a target company in excess of the target company’s book value. Strategic assets have historically been difficult to quantify, but are known to make a company more valuable.

Corporate buyers have been placing increased emphasis and value on strategic assets compared to tangible assets like property, equipment, and manufacturing facilities. Corporate resources applied to build a robust set of a company’s strategic assets are increasingly providing a higher return on investment than those focused strictly on earnings growth.

High-profile transactions such as Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV, and Campari’s acquisition of Wild Turkey all demonstrated the high percentage of purchase price allotted to goodwill due to the seller’s strong set of strategic assets.

According to research by Carol Corrado, “companies put far more money into non-physical assets, such as customer databases, than in building new factories. In 2014, companies invested the equivalent of 14% of the private sector’s gross domestic product in intangible/strategic assets. The investment in physical assets was about 10% of that sum, which is essentially the reverse of 40 years ago when 13% of the private sector GDP went to tangible/physical assets and only 9% to intangible/strategic assets.”

There is currently more than $2.5 trillion in goodwill on corporations’ balance sheets (source: Time magazine). Why? As corporate awareness of intangible asset value is increasing, fewer companies are pursuing acquisitions to add production facilities and other tangible assets. For example, when Microsoft bought LinkedIn, it was almost exclusively for their intangible and strategic assets, such as their brand, website platform, user/customer data, and perhaps the management team and their connections (e.g., Reid Hoffman!).

How to determine which company’s strategic assets to pursue?

Over the past few months, Gates and Company, in conjunction with Jahani and Associates, have been working to determine the strategic assets that help companies achieve premium valuations that can be identified and developed. Knowing that the concept of strategic assets would not benefit every business, and would certainly vary sector by sector, the team began by reviewing M&A deals in the tech sector. Over 500 transactions that closed between 2010 and 2016 were analyzed to determine strategic asset characteristics and goodwill drivers.

Some of the tech M&A deals reviewed for this initiative included:

  • Google acquired Waze for $969 million and allocated $843 million to goodwill
  • Yahoo! paid $990 million for Tumblr, with $750 million going toward goodwill, including $182 million for customer contracts and relationships
  • Facebook’s $17.2 billion acquisition of WhatApp had an astonishing $15.3 billion recorded as goodwill
  • Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $27 billion and allocated $16.7 billion of its purchase price to goodwill; and when it acquired Skype for $8.6 billion, $7.1 billion went to goodwill

In each of these examples, the target company’s strategic assets (IP, customer relationships, brand, etc.) were valued significantly higher than their tangible/physical assets (plants, property, equipment, etc.). Results from the tech sector analysis indicated that companies with recognizable strengths in social media, web advertising, and data analytics consistently received valuations above market. Additionally, an active user/subscriber base was a driver in over 60% of the acquisitions.

Corporate leaders, business owners, and investors face a critical issue: in order to maximize value, they must enhance the set of strategic assets in their company and/or portfolio of businesses. A thorough analysis of transactional data to identify strategic asset characteristics and goodwill drivers must be considered in conjunction with corporate core competencies, market dynamics, and economic trends to build out the most relevant value-enhancing strategic assets.

About Gates and Company

With offices near Philadelphia and Munich, Germany, Gates and Company is an investment banking and management consulting firm dedicated to helping companies grow. With an impressive track record of helping numerous companies reach their goals, Gates and Company specialize in M&A, market research/analysis, growth strategy formulation, business plan development, product/venture launch, and financial advisory services.

Gates and Company’s management consulting team has invested significant time and resources to refine and validate its methodology of determining strategic asset characteristics and goodwill drivers in the tech sector. Current efforts are underway in the health IT sector. By reviewing market dynamics and hundreds of M&A deals on a sector-by-sector basis, Gates and Company offer these insights to their clients so they can better understand how to identify and develop an optimized set of strategic assets. Gates and Company’s investment banking team helps companies seeking liquidity with comprehensive M&A services to sell businesses or business units, including identifying and assessing those potential buyers most likely to be attracted to a company’s current and developing set of strategic assets.

For more information about Gates and Company, visit

Company’s Strategic Assets to Increase Value Articles

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