Evaluation-State buyers step up unicorn hunt as valuations swell By Reuters



By Tom Arnold

LONDON (Reuters) – Sovereign wealth and public pension funds are piling into enterprise capital mega-deals past Silicon Valley whilst frothy valuations elevate fears of overheating amongst a surging variety of unicorns.

The promise of returns at multiples of fairness markets’ has made enterprise capital more and more inviting for state-owned buyers, whereas their deep pockets make them engaging backers for cash-hungry start-ups.

Within the first 9 months of this 12 months, state-owned buyers made $14.9 billion in enterprise capital investments, up from $8.9 billion throughout all of 2020, knowledge from International SWF confirmed.

Participation by sovereign wealth funds and different authorities funds in U.S. enterprise capital offers by worth reached a five-year excessive as of the tip of June, based on PitchBook knowledge.

Whereas the U.S. represented virtually half of all capital flows by sovereign buyers into enterprise capital in 2020, it accounted for under a 3rd of the offers seen in 2021, based on International SWF, with China and India sucking in additional flows to seize 40% of the 2021 complete.

“Know-how, as an entire, is in all places, from meals, to transportation, vitality to logistics. Now it’s seen as a very good alternative to diversify a portfolio,” mentioned Javier Capape, director of sovereign wealth analysis on the IE Middle for the Governance of Change.

“There are sufficient investable initiatives globally and extra established groups across the globe to establish them. The (COVID-19) pandemic has not stopped this pattern, and digital pitching has overcome it efficiently.”

Whereas the enterprise capital arms of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and Canadian pension fund OMERS loom giant in funding circles alongside Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, both underneath its personal title or that of its VC arm, different gamers are dipping toes in via VC corporations or immediately.

In a deal typical of latest tendencies, Indian cloud kitchen firm Insurgent Meals this month raised $175 million in a Sequence F funding spherical, led by Qatar Funding Authority (QIA).

Together with a number of different state-owned buyers, QIA additionally invested in a $3.6 billion deal for India’s Flipkart.

Having made a $1.2 billion funding in India’s Jio Platforms final 12 months, Mubadala is eyeing extra alternatives in Southeast Asia, Ibrahim Ajami, its head of ventures and progress, mentioned on a latest firm podcast.

“We’re targeted on increasing into this area (India and Southeast Asia) as a result of that may be a very giant inhabitants, a digital-first inhabitants, very cellular, very tech-savvy,” Ajami mentioned.

Graphic: Sovereign wealth funds stampede into enterprise capital, https://graphics.reuters.com/SWF-VC/lgvdwlkzkpo/chart_eikon.jpg


Sovereign funds’ curiosity, together with that of different, newer market entrants like personal fairness corporations, hedge funds and mutual funds, has fuelled a enterprise capital growth, stoking worries about wealthy valuations.

The variety of unicorns – privately held start-ups with a valuation of greater than $1 billion – swelled by 16% to 842 between June and September, based on CB Insights, which expects the general quantity to interrupt 1,000 by early 2022.

The rise partially additionally displays extra corporations opting to remain personal for longer throughout a time of uncertainty concerning the post-pandemic outlook for fairness markets.

Whereas enterprise capital permits state-owned buyers to take part in early-stage offers, amongst sovereign funds there was a shift to investing in additional mature start-ups.

State-owned buyers see unicorns as a method to generate outsize returns in a low rate of interest surroundings. U.S. enterprise capital persistently outperformed broader fairness market indexes over the three, 5, 10, 15 and 20 12 months intervals, Cambridge Associates knowledge reveals.

An enormous majority of sovereign wealth offers within the U.S. throughout 2021 have been at $100 million or bigger, notes Kyle Stanford, VC analyst at PitchBook.

“Because the mega-deal market has grown, sovereign wealth funds have discovered extra alternatives to place big chunks of capital to work in single offers,” mentioned Stanford.

“These funds are large, and so for a lot of, smaller offers don’t supply the return essential to make the deal worthwhile.”

Report exit values from enterprise capital-backed corporations are serving to justify hefty funding ranges, say analysts.

That might change if an anticipated tapering of U.S. bond purchases sends ripples via public markets and dampens urge for food for preliminary public choices, a preferred exit route.

However sovereign funds can deal with that threat higher than most, Will Jackson-Moore, international personal fairness, actual belongings and sovereign funds chief at PwC, mentioned.

“The influence on their total portfolio will be comparatively modest as VC is a high-alpha, high-risk a part of their total technique,” he mentioned. As a result of they’re giant swimming pools of capital, he added, “they’re higher positioned to tackle the danger”.

Graphic: Sovereign wealth funds ramp up later stage enterprise capital offers, https://graphics.reuters.com/SWF-VC/zgpomrbdopd/chart.png




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