Khazanah invests in China’s WeLab, eyes growing consumer loan market

Khazanah Nasional Bhd executive director, investments & head of investments Dominic Silva (left) and managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar speaking at a press conference in conjunction with the company

KUALA LUMPUR: Khazanah Nasional Bhd has invested in WeLab, one of China’s largest mobile lending and credit analytics platforms, to gain exposure to the country’s growing consumer loan market.

The sovereign wealth fund said on Wednesday its special purpose vehicle, Bukit Galla Investments Ltd. and several other parties were in a US$160mil Series B fundraising exercise.

Khazanah managing director, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said the investment in WeLab continued to strengthen Khazanah’s presence in the innovation and technology sector internationally. 

“WeLab’s business model is attractive because the company cooperates with financial institutions to provide banking solutions on a purely online and mobile platform, while providing affordable credit to people who are unable to obtain financing through traditional channels,” he said.

Khazanah had led a consortium of investors, which included ING Bank and Guangdong Financial Technology Group. 

This fundraising was carried out after the completion of a US$20mil Series A round in January 2015 from a group of strategic and financial investors, including CK Hutchison’s TOM Group and Sequoia Capital.

This was Khazanah’s first investment in China’s financial technology (fintech) sector, which would enable it to gain exposure to the country’s growing consumer loan market with tremendous demand that is currently unmet by traditional banking services.

With ING’s investment, WeLab is exploring a potential collaboration in online lending and direct banking with ING, a global leader in financial innovation with the early introduction of ING Direct, its online banking business. 

In addition, WeLab will also start collaborating with Postal Savings Bank of China and possibly other commercial banks in 2016 on Internet finance initiatives.

WeLab has a strong focus on innovation and risk management. 

Founded in 2013 in Hong Kong, WeLab is transforming traditional credit services by creating seamless online and mobile lending experiences for China and Hong Kong. 

WeLab operates Wolaidai, one of China’s largest mobile lending platforms, and, Hong Kong’s leading online lending platform.

On Jan 13, Khazanah was among five new partners who between them will invest US$192mil (RM824.35mil) in Edinburgh-based Skyscanner.

Skyscanner said the other four investors in the travel search engine company, which provided free search of flights, hotels and car hire around the world, were Artemis, Baillie Gifford, Vitruvian Partners and Yahoo!Japan.

Skyscanner, founded in 2003, has enjoyed high double-digit growth rates for some years now and has been profitable since 2009.

The company’s existing investment partners are SEP and Sequoia.
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