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Business Deals

Vietnam e-commerce leader draws $51m pan-Asian investment

SBI, Daiwa and SoftBank participate in Sendo Technology funding

Sendo Technology's online marketplace has benefited from explosive growth in Vietnam's e-commerce market.

TOKYO -- Japanese financial services group SBI Holdings and other Asian-based companies will invest a total of $51 million in Vietnam's online marketplace Sendo Technology, seeking to tap the country's booming e-commerce market.

The eight investors include Daiwa PI Partners, SoftBank Ventures Korea and Beenos, which operates cross-border e-commerce services in Japan. Investment companies from Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia also are participating in what will be one of the largest funding rounds for a Vietnamese startup. Their individual investments have not been made public.

Sendo, which debuted in 2012, is an online platform for individuals and small businesses to sell their goods -- similar to Japan's Mercari. It is one of Vietnam's largest e-commerce companies, with over 10 million products from about 300,000 sellers. Gross merchandise sales in the three years through 2017 rose nearly twentyfold. Sendo will use the acquired funds to expand services, targeting merchandise sales of $1 billion in 2020.

Vietnam's e-commerce market continues to grow about 30% annually. Amazon.com appears likely to expand into the country with a marketplace as well.

Bringing together their financial technologies, the investors seek to generate synergies with Sendo. SBI is investing in fintech companies around Asia and studying partnerships for settlement and financing operations. Beenos will provide its e-commerce know-how, looking into a tie-up with its own services. The financial backers aim to recoup their investment through such options as taking the Vietnamese startup public.

Sendo received nearly 2 billion yen ($18 million at current rates) in funding from three Japanese companies including SBI in 2014. Steady operations growth since then encouraged others like Daiwa and the SoftBank Group arm to join in the second round.

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