Singapore’s Sea losses mount, president to depart

SINGAPORE  Sea Ltd, the operator of South-East Asia’s biggest gaming platform, reported mounting losses amid investments for growth and said group president Nick Nash will leave his position at the end of the year.

The Singapore-based company reported its net loss for the quarter ended in December more than tripled to US$263.1 million (RM1.03 billion), compared to analyst estimates that it would lose US$201 million, while total revenue climbed 41% to US$124.6 million, according to generally accepted accounting principles.

Nash, who helped lead Sea’s initial public offering (IPO) last year, said he plans to start a new private-equity fund. He joined the company in 2014 from General Atlantic LLC.

“I want to share the unique experiences I’ve had to help a new generation of companies here in Asia,” Nash, 39, said on a conference call.

“That sharing of learnings from one generation of companies to the next has been a hallmark of what made Silicon Valley so successful. And I look forward to continuing that tradition here in Asia.”

Sea has struggled to gain steady footing since it raised about US$1 billion in the October IPO. Its shares have tumbled while short sellers are betting on further declines. Analysts have remained bullish. Every one of the seven who cover the company recommend buying its shares, according to Bloomberg’s data, with an average target price almost 50% higher than Tuesday’s close of $12.26.

Analysts consider Sea to be South- East Asia’s leading growth company, with backing from Chinese colossus Tencent Holdings Ltd that should

help it capitalise on the region’s adoption of games, e-commerce and digital payments. Sceptics see little evidence that Sea is developing anything resembling a business model with its mounting losses.

The company is investing in e-commerce and digital payments to bolster its games business. Its operating loss increased in the fourth quarter to US$191.1 million, compared to US$83.2 million a year earlier.

In 2018, Sea is forecasting total adjusted revenue of US$730 million to US$770 million, up from US$553.6 million in 2017. — Bloomberg