Ascent starts Myanmar private equity firm

By BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE • Singapore’s Ascent Capital Partners Pte Ltd has launched a Myanmar-focused private equity fund backed by Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd and the Asian Development Bank.

Ascent Myanmar Growth Fund I has raised more than US$50 million (RM205 million) and is looking to add one or two more investors to reach US$100 million in the coming months, Ascent co-founder Lim Chong Chong said in an interview.

The fund is seeking to make two investments of between US$5 million and US$20 million this year and about another eight by 2023, he said.

Myanmar is one of South- East Asia’s fastest-growing economies with expansion forecast to increase to 7.1% in 2020 from 6.7% last year, World Bank estimates show.

More than two-thirds of its 54 million population are under the age of 40, and so urbanisation and a rapidly growing middle class are expected to fuel domestic consumption.

Ascent’s fund will look to buy stakes of around 30% in companies that are leaders in their industries and which require the capital and expertise to expand further domestically, Lim said. Interesting sectors include education, consumer, financial services and healthcare.

“We’re looking at businesses and sectors that can leverage Myanmar’s growth story,” Lim said. “Myanmar is at a very nascent stage of development, so there’s a lot of upside in the next 10 to 20 years.”