June 13, 2016: The family offices of two of Asia’s richest men, Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma and executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai, are among a fresh breed of Chinese investors exploring investments in India, seeking to replicate their successes outside their home market.
Ma’s net worth is estimated at $22.8 billion (about Rs 1.5 lakh crore) and Tsai’s at $5.5 billion-$ 7 billion. While their personal investment vehicles are yet to park money in Indian startups, feelers have been sent through informal networks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the overtures made by the investors.
Meetings between the emerging pool of Chinese private capital and the representatives of Indian startups are mostly being held in Singapore and Hong Kong, according to the sources, who declined to be identified. The new-found interest of the Chinese family offices could offer respite to an Indian startup ecosystem beset by a severe funding crunch because of current investors who have grown cautious about pouring in more money.
“They’re not looking to play a very active role in the running of a company, as strategic investors do. They’re more benign in nature.”
Singapore and Gurgaon-based Droom recently raised Rs 200 crore from a clutch of investors led by Bennett and Digital Garage. Also entering the company’s investor cap table was Hong Kong-based investment company, Integrated Asset Management, which in 2014 had led the buyout of media conglomerate Forbes Group. “A lot of these investors looking at India earned outstanding returns on their bets on the Chinese internet economy,” said Aggarwal.