Singapore launches 387 mln USD co-investment program

08:30, December 03, 2010      

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The Singapore government Thursday announced the launch of a 500-million-Singapore dollar (about 387 million U.S. dollars) co-investment program, aimed to provide growing Singapore enterprises that have successfully gone past the start-up stage.

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean made the announcement the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award dinner on Thursday.

He said that 40 percent of the capital will be directed to " growth-oriented" SMEs with annual revenue below 100 million Singapore dollars, with the rest going to companies with revenue below 500 million Singapore dollars, Singapore TV Channel NewsAsia reported.

The government will provide half the capital, with the remaining 250 million Singapore dollars coming from the private sector.

Teo said that "the investment of government funds under the program will be made primarily through private equity fund managers, who will seek matching capital."

"This approach leverages on the expertise and business networks of private fund managers, and ensures commercial discipline in investments," he was quoted as saying.

The 500-million-Singapore dollar program is the first phase of a broader proposal to mobilize up to 1.5 billion Singapore dollars of new, long-term growth capital over the next 10 years to create a pipeline of Singapore-based globally competitive companies.

This first phase of the program will be managed by Temasek Holdings, which separately announced that it welcomes proposals from private equity investors who have "experience in SME investing and the ability and aspiration to grow Singapore-based SMEs into globally competitive companies."

Temasek said that to qualify for funding, a company must have its headquarters in Singapore, with the chief executive and three other strategic decision makers residing in the country

Phillip Overmyer, chief executive of Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, said that the government's financial backing will "give private investors more confidence in putting money into SMEs".

Analysts say the program will primarily benefit companies that are more mature and need some mid-stage funding when they hit annual revenue of around 60 million Singapore dollars.

This is in contrast to seed funding, which is currently available via IE Singapore programs.

Victor Tay, chief operating officer of Singapore Business Federation, said that in long-gestation businesses such as biomedicine, venture capital is almost non-existent.

"Private sector funds need very early returns, and they won't look there," said Mr Tay.

He added that the co-investment program "marries the best of both worlds -- the government's financial strength and stamina to withstand a longer-drawn exit cycle and the private sector's savvy. "

Source: Xinhua


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