iflix raises more than RM205m ahead of possible IPO

by SHAZNI ONG

IFLIX has announced the finalisation of a new round of investment to drive growth ahead of a prospective initial public offering (IPO).

In a statement yesterday, iflix — a free and subscription video on demand service focused on emerging markets — said while the final size of capital raised in the round has not been disclosed, the total is well in excess of US$50 million (RM205 million).

The round was cornerstoned by Fidelity International, a global asset manager with US$379.2 billion assets under management.

“As part of the round, iflix also welcomes some of the region’s top media companies to the register including Indonesia’s PT Media Nusantara Citra Tbk, Japan’s Yoshimoto Kogyo Co Ltd, and South Korea’s JTBC,” the Kuala Lumpur-based company said.

iflix said this complements the continued investment by founder Catcha Group and strategic shareholders Hearst Corp, Sky Ltd and EMC, each of whom also participated in the round.

“The successful funding round provides iflix with significant firepower to aggressively pursue growth strategies and further increase the active user base which surpassed 17 million in May 2019, up from nine million six months earlier,” the company said.

iflix co-founder and chairman Patrick Grove said it is incredibly proud to have Fidelity cornerstone this latest round of funding, along with investments from all its major shareholders and some of the region’s most significant media companies.

“These investments are a clear affirmation of iflix’s business model and growth prospects, and strengthens our ties to some of the region’s largest providers of local content.

“We have a strong pipeline of new content and are excited to be making our most extensive ever content offering available to our millions of users across the region,” he stated in the release.

It was reported earlier that the company had sold off its remaining shares in its Africa business, after the sale of its regional business to telco Econet Global, called Kwesé iflix, to focus on its markets in South-East Asia and the Middle East.

The latest round of fundraising brings its total funding raised so far to more than US$350 million, according to Crunchbase.

It was also reported that in 2017, the company raised US$133 million to focus more on producing its own original content.

EDBI Pte Ltd, Evolution Media, Catcha Group, Jungle Ventures and PLDT Inc, among others, invested in the round.

iflix currently covers Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

The site serves as a digital hosting and distribution platform for Western, Asian and Middle Eastern TV shows and movies obtained through partnerships with over 150 studios and content distributors globally, including MetroGoldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc, The Walt Disney Co, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc, Paramount Pictures Corp, NBCUniversal Media LLC, Fox News, CBS, BBC, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc and Discovery Inc.

Earlier reports stated that iflix is setting the stage for a listing, set to take place either on the Australian Securities Exchange or the New York Stock Exchange, which could value the company at more than US$1 billion.

The company representative could not be contacted for further comments at press time.

Investment banks Macquarie Capital Ltd and UBS Group AG are preparing the company for an IPO in Australia, according to a news article by the Asian Financial Review.

iflix and its bankers are understood to be working towards a late 2019 listing date, pending wider equity market conditions, the news article added.

iflix was founded by Grove, who is also CEO of Catcha Group, Mark Britt and Evolution Media — a merchant bank focused on the media, sports and entertainment industries — and was created for the rapidly growing, emerging middle-class population and their increasing demand for entertainment content.

Between 1999 and 2016, Grove took five companies from start-up to IPO.