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Sovereign Wealth Funds Go Gaga for Venture and Tech Investments

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Sovereign wealth funds are betting big on innovation and technology shifts in areas such as cloud computing, consumer mobile, driverless cars and augmented reality to help drive return growth.

A cadre of high-profile wealth funds have set up shop in the San Francisco Bay Area including Temasek Holdings, Khazanah Nasional and GIC. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has plans for a west coast office. Why? The trend lines are clear, these savvy institutional investors are keen on getting dealflow and access to Silicon Valley’s latest startups.

According to data from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI), sovereign funds directly invested US$ 13.231 billion into the information technology sector which include mobile, cloud computing, software, e-commerce and other tech industries. In 2010, only US$ 2.06 billion was directly invested in the information technology sector. These tabulated figures only count direct investments, not fund investments. The reasons for the wealth fund ramp up in tech are manifold. First, a greater number of sovereign funds have built up internal resources, moved operations near the battle lines and have expanded business networks, thus increasing deal flow. For example, SWFI hosts conferences, known as Institute Fund Summits, globally in countries such as Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong and the United States. From conversations and increases in wealth fund attendance by internal figures, the consensus seems that wealth funds want more access to deal flow and investment opportunities in a world of “excessive noise”.

Second, sovereign fund behemoths like Singapore’s GIC Private Limited have resiliently formed stable relationships with active tech-focused private equity firms like Silver Lake Partners and Hellman & Friedman. Third, sovereign investors are seen as both strategic and patient capital. Unlike venture funds, sovereign funds like the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) can hold illiquid investments even longer than pension funds and private equity capital. By their very nature, sovereign wealth funds are associated with governments (word – sovereign), which could provide opportunities for startups entering closed or opaque markets.

Unicorns

Unicorns are known as technology startups with a valuation of more than US$ 1 billion. Despite the oil glut and previous excessive volatility in the markets, collectively, sovereign funds amassed a pool of capital exceeding US$ 7.4 billion in assets. Since 2007, these sovereign wealth institutional investors started to become more of a permanent capital source for notable startups, growth companies and unicorns. Many of these investors have bypassed placing capital into venture funds, opting to invest directly.

Sovereign investors have backed a number of storied unicorns such as Uber Technologies, Snap (formerly known as Snapchat), Square, Xiaomi, Flipkart, Airbnb and Spotify. The media had heavily covered Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) US$ 3.5 billion investment into Uber. Did the media properly cover Temasek’s investment in Snap?

Regional Venture Investing

Sovereign funds like Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) remain active in regional venture markets. PIF backed e-commerce startup Noon, while seeing its rival Souq.com get gobbled up by online giant Amazon. In Oman, 500 Startups is raising a MENA fund for startups working with local institutions like the Oman Investment Fund (OIF).

Sovereign funds remain an important pillar of the venture capital and technology investment community.

SWFI First Read, May 25, 2018

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MedInvestGroup Pushes Investment into Russian High-Tech Oncology Centers

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Mubadala Investment Company have attracted MedInvestGroup, which manages a network of the PET Technology regional oncology and radiological centers, as a strategic investor in the joint management and development of a network of cancer diagnosis and treatment centers. The deal aims to significantly improve the efficiency of the already functional centers in Podolsk and Balashikha. The corresponding agreement was announced today at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Southern Satellite City and RDIF Reach a Financing Agreement

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French Industrial Giants Find Opportunity with RDIF

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A number of French industrial companies continue to invest within Russia, finding opportunities within the mega country. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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CPPIB Targets 33% in Emerging Markets by 2025

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The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) generated a net return after expenses and pension contributions of 11.6% for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018, versus its reference portfolio of 9.8%. For the reported fiscal year, CPPIB grew its net assets to a new high of C$ 356.1 billion (US$ 277.2 billion), compared to C$ 316.7 from the year previous.

Mark Machin, President and Chief Executive Officer at CPPIB, attributed the performance to the rising tide in public equity markets across most geographies, whose volatility in recent months was buoyed by significant fourth quarter earnings in the fund’s private holdings. Public and private equities, CPPIB’s first and third largest asset classes by exposure at 38.8% and 20.3%, saw estimated returns of 11.4% and 16.1%, respectively. Machin joined CPPIB in 2012 and was moved to the top in June 2016, following the departure of Mark Wiseman. Machin has a knack for the Asian region, being CPPIB’s first president for Asia and also spent nearly 20 years in Asia, working at Goldman Sachs. CPPIB plans to continue heavily investing in the APAC region, along with India.

Emerging Markets

“By 2025, we will invest up to a third of the Fund in emerging markets, which by that time are anticipated to account for 47% of global GDP,” said Machin in his section of the annual report outlining the pension’s updated strategic plan. CPPIB currently has C$ 56.1 billion invested in emerging markets, C$ 22.4 billion of which is wrapped up in China.

Foreign and emerging markets continued to dominate in CPPIB’s private equity investments with returns of 16.0% and 19.5%, compared to 1.8% for their Canadian counterparts. Asia was a standout market for the pensioner, which raised its exposure to private equity deals in the region by nearly 28% from C$ 13.4 billion to 17.1 billion, closed six direct investments worth C$ 1.6 billion, committed C$ 1.7 billion towards eight funds, and completed three secondary transactions for C$ 400 million.

With 275 global transactions completed over the fiscal year, CPPIB’s geographic exposure places 15.1% of its assets at home in Canada, 37.9% in the neighboring United States, 13.2% in continental Europe, 5.6% in the United Kingdom, 3.1% in Australia, and a whopping 20.4% in Asia.

Public Equities

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