Garena, gaming

Garena began as a gaming business, but quickly expanded into other businesses to diversify its offerings and find larger audiences, in the same vein as its investor, Tencent. Source: Shutterstock/KOKTARO

Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup Sea Ltd files for IPO in US

SHORTLY after a rebrand as Sea Ltd., the Singaporean startup success story once known as Garena has reportedly filed for a potential listing in the United States.

Details of the move are still confidential, but some sources told Bloomberg the offering has the potential to raise US$1 billion. Sea is weighing making their move in early 2018, but anonymous sources said the company had filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, starting a hotly anticipated listing by Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup.

When news of Sea’s rebrand emerged earlier this month, rumors were already swirling, with Goldman Sachs Group purportedly tapped to watch over proceedings. Other sources said Morgan Stanley is also a partner on the deal.

A major loser of a US-listing would be Singapore, whose government has been aggressively courting successful private companies to consider listing in the island state, particularly technology players. Singapore’s ambitions to become the region’s most innovative technology ecosystem has faced several blows, including snubs from China and an increasingly stagnant economy.

However, the country’s technology regulator is working with Singapore Exchange Ltd. to develop programs to help startups find funding, in order to drive up the amount of capital available in the country.

Sea has become well known as Southeast Asia’s technology phenomenon – founded in 2009 by Forrest Li, the company has claimed some of the biggest names in tech investment circles as their investors, including the scion of Indonesia’s richest man, Hillhouse Capital and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

SEE ALSO: Garena rebrands as Sea, plans to conquer Indonesian e-commerce

Sea got its start as an online gaming portal, but quickly diversified into other sectors such as ad mobile shopping and fintech.

The company won a staggering US$50 million in its latest round of fundraising, and the emerging listing strategy clearly indicates things are going far more than well for the company. Bloomberg reports if Sea manages to raise US$1 billion from its listing, it will definitively claim the mantle as the largest Southeast Asian technology IPO.

Sea is also working to establish itself in the e-commerce market. The company’s investments in e-commerce platform Shopee and payments system Airpay could tip the scale in their favor as the region becomes the setting for what is set to be an all-out war between Chinese conglomerates Alibaba and Amazon is also rumored to be planning an entry to the region.