Luckin Coffee startup backer raises over $2bn

China’s Centurium Capital, a big backer of domestic startup Luckin Coffee, said it has raised more than $2 billion in its debut fund. (Reuters)
Updated 03 July 2019

Luckin Coffee startup backer raises over $2bn

  • US dollar fund will help firm invest in Chinese VIEs
  • Centurium invested $180m in Luckin Coffee’s first two funding rounds

HONG KONG: China’s Centurium Capital, a big backer of domestic startup Luckin Coffee, said it has raised more than $2 billion in its debut fund, giving the private equity firm more firepower to cut deals involving the world’s second-largest economy.

The firm, co-founded by the former head of Warburg Pincus Asia Pacific, David Li, said on Wednesday that Centurium Capital Partners 2018 L.P. raised the sum in US dollars.

The fund secured strong interest from global investors, known as limited partners (LPs), such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and funds-of-funds, it said.

Investors in the fund include Singapore’s GIC Pte Ltd. and Temasek Holdings, Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, China Investment Corp. (CIC) and US pension fund Washington State Investment Board, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

Centurium declined to comment on the fund’s LPs. All the investors didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The US dollar fund will help Centurium invest in Chinese firms that use overseas structures such as variable-interest entities.

Centurium joins several China-focused private equity and venture capital managers who raised $17.3 billion in dollar-denominated funds in the first half of the year, versus $13 billion over the same period last year, according to data provider Preqin.

Launched in March 2018, Centurium’s maiden fund reached the first close of nearly $1 billion three months later and has beaten the $1.5 billion and $1.98 billion fundraising targets since then.

Beijing-based Centurium was set up in early 2017 by Li and two other partners. Li had worked with Warburg Pincus for 14 years and led several investments for the US buyout firm in China, including in top car rental service provider CAR Inc. 

“After helping several entrepreneurs fulfill their entrepreneurial dream for so many years, I also have my dream of launching our own (investment) firm,” Li said.

Centurium primarily seeks control and significant minority investment opportunities across China’s consumer, services and health care sectors where it looks to boost operational efficiency and tackle structural deficiencies.

“The Chinese business environment nowadays needs a new generation of investors that combine the global PE best practice and local experience,” Li said.

“Instead of being a pure capital provider, firms like Centurium can better integrate with local markets, and be more efficient and responsive to provide bespoke local solutions to new challenges and opportunities.”

Centurium began to gain recognition last year when it made a big bet on Luckin Coffee, the Chinese challenger to Starbucks Corp. It invested about $180 million in Luckin in the startup’s first two fundraising rounds.

Li said that Centurium has invested about 40 percent of the capital raised in the debut fund in five firms in China and aims to fully deploy the fund by the end of next year.


Nvidia deal for Arm will drive computing power growth, says SoftBank’s CEO

Updated 23 October 2020

Nvidia deal for Arm will drive computing power growth, says SoftBank’s CEO

  • Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) is an anchor investor in the $100 billion Vision Fund

TOKYO/DUBAI: SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son said on Thursday the sale of chip designer Arm to Nvidia Corp. will drive growth in computing power, in his first public comments since the $40 billion deal was announced in September.
Son made the comments at a virtual summit about artificial intelligence hosted by Saudi Arabia, an anchor investor in the $100 billion Vision Fund, at which he reiterated his belief that AI would transform society.
The Nvidia deal, part of a series of asset sales by Son, whose group has been shaken by soured investments and the COVID-19 pandemic, has raised concerns it will threaten Arm’s role as a neutral supplier in the industry.
Son is set to speak next week with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang at SoftBank World, the group’s annual event for customers and suppliers that is being retooled as it focuses on investing.
SoftBank’s growing cash pile is driving speculation about future investment plans, with the Vision Fund targeting external funding for a blank-check company, a source said, in a sign the group is regaining its mojo.
“I am a risk taker,” Son said on Thursday.
Rajeev Misra, CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers which oversees the Vision Fund, said the market share gained by online commerce companies in the last six to eight months is more than what they gained in the previous four years put together.
“COVID has accelerated the acceleration of AI even further,” Misra told the same conference, adding in the 105 companies Vision Fund 1 and 2 have invested in, artificial intelligence is the core of their businesses.