01 June 2020 – UBS Groups Prepares for Fintech Investments

The Big Ones

1

Switzerland-based bank UBS Group is setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars of its money to invest in financial technology companies, according to Bloomberg.

UBS hired Erasmus Elsner for its venture capital and growth equity unit last month but is reportedly still recruiting staff for a dedicated corporate venture capital (CVC) team. It is planning a corporate VC fund to make investments between $10m and $20m in dozens of companies targeting bank/client engagement, investing and financing platforms and the improvement of the bank’s underlying operations, a source told Bloomberg.

Mike Dargan, UBS’s Global Head Group Technology, said: “UBS wants to further engage with and support fintech firms. The new venture investment portfolio is a next step to accelerate our innovation and digitisation efforts.”

2

It’s a scary-enough headline, ‘Huawei Banned, So Let’s Invade Taiwan to Take TSMC?’, in reaction to the strict set of rules announced by the US government on May 15 in a bid to cut the China-based 5G and telecoms equipment maker off from the global semiconductor ecosystem.

In its subsequent report, “US strategic approach to the People’s Republic of China,” published on the 20th, the US said: “The administration is implementing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act to update and strengthen the capacity of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to address growing national security concerns over foreign exploitation of investment structures, which previously fell outside CFIUS jurisdiction.

“This includes preventing Chinese companies from exploiting access to US innovation through minority investments in order to modernise the Chinese military. The US has updated its export control regulations, particularly in light of Beijing’s whole-of-society strategy and its efforts to acquire advanced technologies related to hypersonics, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and other emerging and foundational technologies. We are also engaging allies and partners to develop their own foreign investment screening mechanisms, and to update and implement export controls collaboratively through multilateral regimes and other forums….

“Domestically, the Administration is taking steps to strengthen the US economy and promote economic sectors of the future, such as 5G technology, through tax reforms and a robust deregulatory agenda. The President’s ‘Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence’ is an example of a US government initiative to promote investment and collaboration to ensure the US continues to lead in innovation and setting standards for a growing industry.”

But the horse might have bolted. The ChinaTalk article at the top suggests Huawei has done enough over the past few years to survive, stating: “The main issue is supporting Huawei in maintaining its dominant position in 5G and helping it continue to be able to supply the needs of 5G bases.

3

The US healthcare system has many virtues, but it is simply too expensive and hard for consumers to access care, according to insiders. Coastal Americans’ faith in their system has been shaken by the coronavirus and this has created opportunities for some. Jeff Bennett, CEO of startup Higi, is trying to tackle the issue and has received a fillip with a new round of funding.

UK-based personal healthcare provider Babylon has joined the ranks of new corporate venturers by leading the latest round for US-based health engagement technology developer Higi.

The round was reportedly $30m in size and Higi’s previous investors, 7Wire Ventures, Flare Capital Partners, Jumpstart Capital, Rush University Medical Center for Health and William Wrigley Jr, also took part. Higi raised $25.8m in 2018, according to a regulatory filing, from investors including Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated venture firm Sandbox Industries, though Sandbox has said it is now no longer an investor.

4

Similarly, money is flowing in other parts of healthcare and life sciences. The power of science fiction films retains its hold in inspiring inventors but the secret to corporate venturing and open innovation lies in retaining optionality.

Drawing on inspiration from Star Trek, Vaxxas, a Queensland University, Australia, spin-out, has developed technology which could mean vaccine delivery via needles and syringes could soon be a thing of the past.

The World Economic Forum named the company a Technology Pioneer in late 2014 and over the past decade the company has been working on a nanopatch, based on research at the university’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, that delivers vaccines painlessly and more efficiently than syringes.

5

Cisco intends to purchase the network analytics software producer, which had raised more than $110m from investors including GV and Salesforce Ventures, for a reported $1bn.

Networking equipment manufacturer Cisco agreed yesterday to acquire ThousandEyes, a US-based network management software provider backed by internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet and enterprise software producer Salesforce.

The price was reported by Bloomberg as being approximately $1bn, a figure confirmed to CNBC by a person familiar with the matter. Cisco expects the transaction to close by the end of next month.

Founded in 2010, ThousandEyes provides cloud analytics software that collects data from a range of access points, such as data centres and consumer devices, to identify potential sources of disruption and ensure websites, applications and services are delivered optimally.

Deals

Genome sequencing technology developer MGI Tech has closed a $1bn series B round, four years after being formed as a subsidiary of genome research organisation BGI. The round, which follows a $200m series A a year ago, shows the potential value in spinning off valuable subsidiaries, and it follows a $265m round for another China-based spinoff, smart sensor and power semiconductor provider BYD Semiconductor (see yesterday).

Chinese online grocer MissFresh has seen business pick up sharply during the coronavirus lockdown and has accordingly raised funding at a reported $3bn pre-money valuation. The company’s existing backers include Tencent and Lenovo but the only new investor revealed in media reports is CICC Fund. Bloomberg reported in the last few days that it was set to raise roughly $500m.

SpaceX meanwhile goes from strength to strength, the spacecraft producer and launch services provider expanding its latest funding round to $346m and surpassing its original target of a $250m close. Elon Musk has got a lot of flack over the past few years, but it’s worth noting that Tesla’s shares are continuing to rise while Alphabet-backed SpaceX is still growing – to a $36bn+ valuation, if reports from earlier this year are accurate.

Electric carmaker BYD is preparing for a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing and as part of a restructuring effort it is spinning off semiconductor and sensor subsidiary BYD Semiconductor with $265m in external funding. Sequoia Capital China, CICC Capital and SDIC Venture Capital are co-leading the round, which will value the subsidiary at more than $1.3bn. Originally known as BYD Microelectronic, it was formed in 2004.

Marqeta makes off with $150m

Insitro has created a machine learning-equipped drug discovery platform and has secured $143m in a series B round featuring WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, GV and Alexandria Venture Investments. GV had already contributed to the $100m in series A funding with which Insitro emerged from stealth in mid-2018, at a $1.05bn valuation.

Arvelle arcs to series A close

Pie Insurance picks out $127m

Bolt flashes on fresh funding

AbCellera has built an antibody drug discovery system and has secured $105m in a series B round featuring Eli Lilly, having signed a collaboration agreement with the pharmaceutical firm last week. In fact it’s been a great few weeks for Canada-based AbCellera, which got a commitment for up to $125m in financing from government agency Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at the start of this month.

Elsewhere in China, Xiaomi has invested almost $103m in power bank producer Zimi through a cash-and-stock deal that increased its stake in the company from 22.5% to 49.9%. Zimi was already part of the Xiaomi ecosystem, a strategic investment initiative intended to construct a network of companies producing Xiaomi-compatible products. That network reportedly now encompasses some 300 portfolio companies.

Mindstrong mines Optum for $100m series C

Oxford Nanopore expands latest round

CFS sees out $84m series A2 round

Exits

Sendo and Tiki test the waters for merger

Roche reaches for portfolio company Stratos

UA’s FreeFall Aerospace completes merger

Kintor Pharmaceutical has however successfully floated in Hong Kong, pricing its initial public offering at the top of the range to raise $240m. The IPO featured a $115m cornerstone investment by appliance maker Gree, which provided $89m, Highlight Capital and Foresight Fund. It was 500-times oversubscribed according to Kintor, which is developing prostate and breast cancer drugs, and which plans to now expand into hair loss treatment.

VeriSilicon vies for $111m in IPO

Avidity to invade public markets

Burning Rock files for $100m IPO

Pliant places IPO terms

Nanoform to shape $76.7m IPO

Funds

U-M taps Deerfield for Great Lakes Discoveries


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

20 February 2017 – Ford Invests in Argo AI, Enterprise Ireland backs 4 Funds and Much More

Deals

SoftBank has agreed to pay $3.3bn to acquire Fortress Investment Group, an investment manager with some $70bn of assets under management.

Jera, the joint venture formed by Japanese energy utilities Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, has invested $200m in India-based solar and wind energy producer ReNew Power, taking a 10% stake.

Lytro, the developer of a light field camera and imaging platform it claims can film the highest quality and resolution VR content on the market, has raised $60m in a round that took its overall funding to $200m.

Vietnamese e-commerce platform Tiki, which like Amazon started out selling books before branching out into other consumer products, is reportedly in the process of raising between $50m and $60m in a series D round expected to close by the end of this year.

Rhythm, a biopharmaceutical company developing peptide therapeutics to treat rare genetic deficiencies, has raised $41m in a mezzanine round backed by Ipsen and Pfizer Venture Investments.

Baidu Ventures has made its first investment, contributing to a $27m series B round for 8i, the developer of an app that allows users to record and project photorealistic holograms.

Logsitics company DB Schenker has led a $25m series D round for freight shipping marketplace uShip, doubling the company’s total funding in the process.

General Motors has led a funding round for advanced metal products developer NanoSteel that, according to a regulatory filing, is sized at $15m.

Soundtrack Your Brand, a Sweden-based business-to-business music streaming platform, raised $22m today from a consortium co-led by Industrifonden, the investment arm of Sweden’s government.

Exactuals, the US-based developer of a software platform that organises entertainment payments, has secured $10m in a series A round that featured featured Stanford University’s StartX Fund.

Funds

Nasdaq is reportedly setting up a corporate venturing arm in order to fund startups with technology beneficial to its own offerings.

Tedco, the state-owned Technology Development Corporation of Maryland, has partnered financial services Harbor Bank to launch a fund aimed at black entrepreneurs.

Mubadala Development and International Petroleum Investment (IPIC), two sovereign wealth funds of Abu Dhabi, are set to be merged into a single vehicle named Mubadala Investment Co.

The Netherlands’ ministries for Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation jointly announced a €2.5bn ($2.1bn) government venturing fund called Invest-NL.

The government of India has approved a Rs68.31bn ($1.02bn) fund of funds aimed at the electronics and IT sectors, with an initial capital commitment of Rs6.81bn.

The government of Romania has signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an investment arm called Sovereign Development and Investment Fund.

Exits

Snap has set the terms for an IPO that will give exits to Alibaba, Tencent and Yahoo, and which will raise $3.2bn if the company floats at the top of its range.

Visterra, which is developing antibody-based therapeutics for diseases such as influenza and dengue fever, has withdrawn its IPO, more than a year after initially filing.

Grab, the ride hailing platform that serves as Uber’s main competition in Southeast Asia, is reportedly set to make the first deal out of the $700m Indonesian investment drive it announced last week, acquiring mobile payment platform Kudo for more than $100m.

Supply chain management firm E2open has acquired Steelwedge, a business planning software producer that counts property developer JF Shea as an investor, in an all-share deal.

Beepi, the operator of an online marketplace for used cars, is winding down after raising almost $150m in funding, including $70m in a 2015 round led by automotive manufacturer SAIC that valued Beepi at $500m.

O-Flexx Technologies, a Germany-based thermoelectrics technology developer, has been acquired by automotive parts manufacturer Mahle for an undisclosed amount, providing an exit to NRW Bank, the state-owned economic development bank of North Rhine-Westphalia.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0