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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 1 March 2020


Fast-growing digital bank Revolut triples valuation to $5.5 billion, DST Global participates

British financial technology start-up Revolut has raised $500 million in a fresh round of funding that values it at $5.5 billion. The investment round was led by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm TCV — an early investor in companies like Facebook and Netflix — and also attracted backing from existing investors Ribbit Capital, DST Global, Lakestar and GP Bullhound, noted that DST Global is a Hong Kong-based investment company that funds late-stage ventures in the global internet industry.

According to data from venture capital analytics firm CB Insights, Revolut is now tied with e-commerce payments start-up Klarna as the most valuable fintech start-up in Europe. Its main aim with the new financing was to bolster its current offering in existing markets, as well as launch lending services for retail and business customers.

Hong Kong Startup Snapask eyes breakeven in 2020 with US$35m fresh funds

On Wednesday, Hong Kong-based tutoring app player Snapask announced that it has secured US$35 million in fresh funding from investors including Singapore-based venture firm Asia Partners and Intervest from South Korea. Snapask is already present in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. In addition, Snapask plans to open its regional headquarters in Singapore this year and tap the latest funding to expand into Vietnam, which Mr Yu sees as a natural extension of its South-east Asia strategy.

Snapask’s key offering is on-demand tutor matching and one-on-one instant assistance to over three million students, aged between 13 and 17. It has a base of over 350,000 freelance tutors on its platform. It may be an indirect beneficiary of school suspensions following the coronavirus outbreak in Asia. Of the 1.3 million new users Snapask onboarded in the past year, about a third were in the past three months, coinciding with Hong Kong’s suspension of schools.

Fidelity acquires stake in HK crypto firm BC Group

Fidelity International has acquired an HK$110.5 million ($14.2 million) stake in the operator of OSL, one of Asia’s biggest digital-asset platforms for professional investors. The investment manager acquired 17 million shares of BC Technology Group Ltd. for an average price per share of HK$6.50 as of Feb. 12, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing. The acquisition makes Fidelity a substantial shareholder with a 5.6% position. 

The investment is part of a larger $36 million share placement by BC Group at the end of January. BC Group shares have slipped 7.6% so far this year. Hugh Madden, the CEO of BC Group said that they’re excited to see that world-class equity investors are increasingly participating in the fast-growing digital asset sector, and they look forward to reaching new milestones with the industry-leading institutional investors. 

HKSAR chief executive eyes anti-epidemic fund to help embattled tech startups

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam said Thursday that she hopes the anti-epidemic fund set by the government will benefit embattled tech startups amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The HKSAR government proposed to use the fund to provide tenants and startups at the Hong Kong Science Park, industrial estates and Cyberport a six-month rental waiver, with about 1,800 tenants expected to benefit from it, she said when meeting heads of some startups. 

It is hoped that the measure will help retain innovation and technology (I&T) capability and talent, enabling Hong Kong to relaunch the sector's development down the road, adding that the government will consider rolling out more support measures. The fund also proposed to provide subsidies to participants and organizers of exhibitions and conventions, and Lam believed the IT industry will also benefit from the initiative.

China’s Innocare Pharma plans virtual investor meetings for HK IPO

A Chinese biotech firm that canceled investor meetings for its Hong Kong initial public offering earlier this month due to the novel coronavirus outbreak is planning to hold them as soon as next week, but likely virtually. It aims to raise about $200 million to $300 million in the first-time share sale, which could be the largest deal in Hong Kong to go ahead with formal pre-marketing since the Lunar New Year break, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. 

Just two IPOs have priced in Hong Kong since mid-January, raising a total of $32 million, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The virus has been hitting activity in what was the world’s top listing venue last year with more than $40 billion raised. A global stock rout on Monday caused by fears over a surge in cases outside China is likely to add to the negative backdrop.

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