This picture taken in Jakarta on December 12, 2018 shows a website on mobile phone selling Indonesia's traditional outfits "Kebaya". - Indonesia's top e-commerce site Tokopedia said on December 12, it has raised 1.1 billion USD in funding from investors including Japanese tech giant SoftBank and China's biggest e-commerce firm Alibaba. (Photo by ADEK BERRY / AFP)ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images
Tokopedia has expanded beyond ecommerce to offer other services such as online payments © AFP

SoftBank’s Vision Fund has led a $1.1bn funding round for Indonesian ecommerce site Tokopedia in a move that underscores the Japanese group’s growing presence in Asia’s tech scene.

The deal comes just months after SoftBank took a leading role in the $3bn raised by ByteDance, valuing the Chinese news feed and video company at $75bn.

The $100bn Vision Fund, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, is also in the process of setting up an investment team in China.

The moves are seen as a boost of confidence in Asia’s tech sector, especially after multiple Chinese tech companies, such as Xiaomi and Meituan, have disappointed investors following their initial public offerings earlier this year.

Investment in start-ups in China, and increasingly in south-east Asia, has long been dominated by Chinese tech titans Alibaba and Tencent. SoftBank has a 29 per cent stake in Alibaba, and the two have co-invested in a number of companies, including China’s ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing and Paytm, the Indian ecommerce group.

In the case of Tokopedia, the Vision Fund joined Alibaba to lead the $1.1bn funding round, which reportedly valued the company at more than $7bn.

Like Alibaba, Tokopedia has expanded beyond ecommerce to offer other services such as online payments.

“We see our mission — to make it easy to do business anywhere — reflected in Tokopedia’s journey,” said Kenny Ho, head of investment in south-east Asia and India at Alibaba.

ByteDance has also rapidly expanded in recent months. It acquired lip-syncing app for $800m last year, and has taken steps into messaging, a move that pits it against Tencent. Unlike other Chinese start-ups, it has taken no funding from Tencent or Alibaba to date.

“For someone like [ByteDance, taking funds from SoftBank] makes sense because it keeps them relatively neutral while raising money at a high valuation,” said Ben Harburg, managing partner of venture capital firm MSA Capital.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC invested $200m in Luckin Coffee in a deal announced on Wednesday that valued the Starbucks challenger at $2.2bn.

Qian Zhiya, chief executive of Luckin Coffee, said the company would use the money to “continue to increase capital investment in product research and development, technological innovation and business development, and continue to optimise product and user experience”.

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