KKR-backed Avendus to tap tech investment banking deals in Southeast Asia

By M. Sriram

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Indian financial services firm Avendus will start offering investment banking services from Singapore to cash in on an expected technology sector dealmaking boom in the Southeast Asia region.

Majority owned by U.S. private equity giant KKR, Avendus is best known in India for advising large startups such as SoftBank-backed food delivery firm Swiggy and eyewear retailer Lenskart on their fund raising.

Karan Sharma, a managing director for Avendus in India said the operations from Singapore will focus on advising technology sector funding rounds of $40-50 million in Southeast Asia.

Sharma said Avendus India Managing Director Varun Gupta will lead the Southeast Asia operations and relocate to Singapore early next year.

“The kind of massive growth we saw in India the last 8-9 years is what we expect in Southeast Asia now, which has also grown big. The demographics and infrastructure challenges are similar,” said Sharma, who co-heads Avendus’ Digital & Technology Investment Banking division in India.

Over the last decade, India has been a sought-after market for technology investors such as Tiger Global and SoftBank, as many companies raised billions of dollars and made their market debuts in line with the increasing adoption of smartphones, digital payments and online shopping.

But India’s startups have also faced criticism for unrealistic and high valuations, and many have battled a funding crunch and fired employees during the recent technology market rout.

Southeast Asia is also on the radar of investors seeking emerging market exposure as the region is witnessing strong economic growth, an increasing population and consolidation in some sectors. Companies such as ride-hailers Grab and GoTo have already clocked multibillion dollar valuations.

Dealmaking in Southeast Asia should help lift Asian mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the second half of the year, bankers told Reuters in June. The region was the source of the largest Asia Pacific M&A transaction this year, Refinitiv data showed.

Expanding to Southeast Asia will also help Avendus leverage its relationships with investors such as Accel and Lightspeed which have expanded beyond India, an industry source familiar with its plans said.

Avendus employs about 150 bankers in India, and Venture Intelligence data shows it was the top advisor in India for private equity deals in 2022, advising on 37 deals worth $7 billion. It competes with larger rivals such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

(Reporting by M. Sriram, additional reporting by Yantoultra Ngui in Singapore, editing by Aditya Kalra and Sharon Singleton)