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JG Summit to pump $50m into Southeast Asian startups

Move follows Ayala Corp. $150 million venture fund

JG Summit chief executive Lance Gokongwei wants his Philippine conglomerate to focus on a few high value big bets. (Photo by Lester Babiera)

MANILA -- Philippine conglomerate JG Summit Holdings announced the establishment on Friday of a $50 million fund to invest tech startups across Southeast Asia to "augment or disrupt" its own businesses.

"Digital is a key pillar to JG's future," JG Summit chief executive Lance Gokongwei said in a statement. "There is no shortage of ideas in the digital space, so we must focus on a few big bets that generate the most value."

JG Summit's move follows last month's announcement by Ayala Corp. that it was setting up a $150 million venture fund, as Manila's family-controlled conglomerates charge into technology ventures that could potentially threaten their own traditional businesses in banking and retail.

The JG Summit fund, which will be deployed in early and later stage startups, also offers an opportunity for Philippine startups that have lagged behind in regional venture capital funding.

JG Digital Equity Ventures will invest in technologies that are aligned with the Gokongwei family's existing businesses in media, the consumer sector, retail and financial services, JG Summit said.

It will also focus on technology platforms that will power future industries, including digital health, data and logistics. JG Summit currently has businesses in the food and beverage, airline, real estate, banking, petrochemical and telecom sectors.

The company previously invested around $40 million in technology startups including SEA Limited, the company behind regional e-commerce platform Shopee, and Oriente, a digital lender active in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

JG DEV's current portfolio also includes mobile app Cashalo, a mobile lending platform; Growsari, which links up over a million mom and pop stores directly with suppliers; and Snapcart, a data analytics company.

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