Ascent Capital launches Myanmar growth fund 

19 January 2019
Ascent Capital launches Myanmar growth fund 

Ascent Capital Partners Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-registered fund management firm, has announced the launch of a Myanmar-focused private equity fund - Ascent Myanmar Growth Fund I LP (“AMGF”).

AMGF will focus on companies in the consumer, education, financial services, healthcare, technology, media, and telecommunications sectors in the nascent Myanmar economy. The
fund is supported by strategic institutional, corporate and individual investors with long successful track records of investing and building businesses across sectors globally and in
Myanmar, the company said according to a press release on 15 January.

Investors include Temasek, the Asian Development Bank (“ADB”) and JG Summit Holdings.

JG Summit Holdings is one of the largest conglomerates from the Philippines, with significant business interests in foods, agro-industrial and commodities, air transportation, real estate and hotel, petrochemicals and banking with core investments in telecommunications and power generation and distribution.

Anchor investors include Myanmar’s Aung Moe Kyaw, Founder and Co-Chairman of Myanmar Distillery Company Ltd (“MDC Group”), one of the country’s most successful companies and owners of the Grand Royal whiskey brand, and Singapore’s Tony Chew, co-founder of MDC Group and Chairman of Asia Resource Corporation. Tony Chew has a strong track record of investing and operating in emerging markets in ASEAN. He has been investing in Myanmar for over two decades.

U Aung Moe Kyaw, a highly regarded business leader in Myanmar, said, “Myanmar will thrive in the long term. AMGF is an early mover and very well-positioned. Temasek, ADB, and JG
Summit Holdings each have experience, expertise and strong support networks. I believe that AMGF will contribute to the growth of Myanmar companies.”

There is underpinning optimism in Myanmar’s early stage, with strong growth trajectory across multiple sectors. According to the World Bank’s projections, Myanmar’s GDP growth rate has the potential to increase from 6.7% in 2018 to 7.1% in 2020.1 More than two-thirds of the 54 million population are under 40 years of age. Urbanisation and a rapidly growing middle class will fuel domestic consumption.

Political developments are also positive. The new Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018 – 2030) launched in August 20182 confirmed the private sector as the main engine for a balanced and sustainable economic growth. The Government also formed a new Ministry for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations in November 20183 to improve cooperation between the various ministries for investment purposes.

AMGF is managed by Ascent Capital, founded by two partners, Singaporean Lim Chong Chong and Malaysian Pneh Tee Keong, who each bring decades of experience in private equity, investments, corporate finance, consulting and senior corporate positions in Myanmar, the People’s Republic of China, Singapore and Malaysia.

“We are encouraged by the support of investors such as Temasek and ADB, as well as other strategic investors with successful track records across sectors globally. Considering Myanmar’s growth potential and stage of development, our investment philosophy is to look beyond just providing capital; we will add value to Myanmar companies by contributing our management expertise and by leveraging on our extensive global network,” said Lim Chong Chong, Founder and Managing Partner of Ascent Capital.

“One of our key goals is to help build the foundation of Myanmar companies for sustainable growth, and we will work closely with the companies to advocate environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) objectives within Myanmar’s business ecosystem,” added Mr. Lim.

Earlier this month, ADB announced an agreement to provide a USD10 million equity investment to AMGF, with the aim of deepening capital markets, boosting growth prospects and developing gender equality by ensuring support for women entrepreneurs in Myanmar.

“We are delighted to invest in AMGF alongside other strategic investors and we believe Ascent Capital can play a critical role in providing the much-needed growth capital and management know-how to support the growth and transformation of Myanmar companies.

Additionally, their goal of helping to create a sustainable economic environment is very much in line with ADB’s objectives, which include creating opportunities and support for women entrepreneurs and women-led companies,” said Ms. Janette Hall, Director of the Investment Funds and Special Initiatives Division at ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department.