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Singapore Tech Giant Sea Pulls Plug on Investment Arm

Sea Capital had invested in collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its parent had seen its market capitalisation fall to $32.54bn from over $200bn

A lanyard showing logos of Southeast Asian e-commerce and gaming group Sea Ltd is pictured at its office in Singapore, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A lanyard showing logos of e-commerce and gaming group Sea Ltd is pictured. Photo: Reuters


Southeast Asian e-commerce and gaming giant Sea Ltd is disbanding its investment arm amid worries over the global economic picture.

Sea Capital stopped new equity investing in 2022 with its leadership moving on in May, while Sea itself is placing less priority on investing given market conditions, a source revealed.

The decision to close the two-year-old arm comes as technology investors, both funds and firms, have held back on investing amid higher interest rates and while economies struggle for growth as they recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.


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Globally in the tech sector, mergers and acquisitions backed by private equity have totalled $78 billion so far this year, down 35% from the same period last year, Refinitiv data showed.

In Asia ex-Japan, such deals have reached $5.8 billion, down 67% on year and the lowest since 2017, the data showed.

Singapore-based Sea launched Sea Capital in March 2021 with initial capital of $1 billion after buying Hong Kong’s Composite Capital Management, founded by former Hillhouse Capital partner David Ma who became Sea Capital’s chief investment officer.

New York-listed Sea in an earnings briefing last month said Ma had joined the group’s board of directors and would no longer serve as CIO.

One of the people said the decision to wind down Sea Capital was prompted by “less deal activity” resulting in fewer investment opportunities.


Sea Job Cuts in Overhaul

The second person said Sea Capital’s entire team had been disbanded and moved to other roles in May. The arm itself will continue to exist on paper as its investments are still valid.

Sea Capital had made at least three investments, including in 2021 into collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Other FTX backers have had to mark down their investment to zero after FTX filed for US bankruptcy protection in November.

Sea, Southeast Asia’s biggest listed tech firm, began an overhaul of the group last year, reducing its workforce by around 7,000 people, or about 10%, and freezing salaries as its market capitalisation tumbled to $32.54 billion from an early pandemic high of over $200 billion.

The overhaul, which included exiting India, Europe and some Latin American markets, helped the 14-year old company achieve its first-ever quarterly net profit in December.

Sea’s share price has risen 10% so far this year, compared with a decline of about 2% in the benchmark NYSE composite index.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

Bankrupt FTX Recovers $7.3bn Assets, May Restart in 2024

Sea Cuts Operations in South America, Gaming Staff in China




Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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