I was in Singapore’s CBD (Central Business District) today meeting up with a friend and bumped into Lee Chong Min, managing partner at CMIA Capital Partners, a private equity firm based here.
It was somewhat of a blast from the past, as I’d initially met Chong Min in 2000, when I was still a reporter covering the tech and Internet sectors.
At that time, he had been investing in tech startups, and two of the companies I covered: Pinnz (a Voice-over-IP play) and Aretae Interactive (a web design/development studio) were among his investments.
Following the bust in dotcoms in 2001, I left the field of journalism to help run the operations for a business owner I knew, and along the way, fell into consulting and later, Internet marketing.
It’s probably a matter of spotting trends that let Chong Min to invest in China plays. According to media reports, his private equity firm invested about US$600 million in more than 20 China growth companies. The firm’s investment yielded a gross internal rate of return of more than 54 percent on its investment capital.
The company seems set to continue investing in SMBs (small and medium businesses), better known as SMEs (small and medium enteprises) in the Singapore context.
It’s plans to co-invest in property and food-related businesses shows a shift from having invested in high-risk high-reward tech plays, to more conservative investments with more regular cashflow and stability of earnings.
With capital markets tightening up, it seems to make sense to build a portfolio around secure investments before adding higher risk tech/telco/media plays into its portfolio.