Softbank To Push Malaysian Internet Growth

[MALAYSIA]Softbank Emerging Markets (SBEM), a joint-venture between San Francisco-based Internet investment company Softbank Corp and the International Finance Corp (IFC), plans to play an active role in the growth of Internet business in Malaysia.

SBEM will identify and provide funding to promising Internet business concepts, and nurture them into successful Net companies globally.

According to SBEM Malaysia’s Managing Director David G.H. Low, the company is targeting to invest in at least two companies per quarter, or between five and 10 new ventures annually.

SBEM Malaysia is not looking for quantitative investments but qualitative investments, added Low. It will focus on emerging technologies such as wireless applications and communications technologies, enabling technologies and Internet infrastructure companies.

The Malaysia outfit began its operations in January this year and is currently in the process of identifying promising foreign and local Internet companies. The office is expected to have between 15 to 20 staff by year-end.

“There are several in the pipeline and an announcement on the first investment in Malaysia is expected soon,” said Low.

SBEM Ltd’s CEO Matt Rothman said that Malaysia was chosen as the first regional hub because of its commitment to Internet development, adequate penetration of telephone, wireless and broadcast systems as well as the emergence of potential new businesses and local partners.

SBEM’s expansion to other individual countries will be evaluated against similar factors, said Rothman.

“Over the next two years, we will be opening offices in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines using the Malaysian outfit to springboard these opportunities.

Our immediate priority is to create a strong foothold and platform in each home market.”

The expansion is in line with SBEM’s plan to scale its global operations rapidly by establishing offices in five regions – Central Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

“We have not earmarked any specific amount allocated to invest in Malaysia and the Southeast Asia region. It is up to each country to indicate the amount by allowing opportunities to present themselves.”

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