Garena secures $550M in new funds, rebrands to Sea

Singapore-based online retail and games company will use the new round of investment to beef up its Shopee e-commerce platform, focusing on key markets in the region including Indonesia.

Singapore-based online retail and games site, Garena Interactive, has shored up US$550 million in a new funding round and rebranded itself to Sea.

The new funds would go towards beefing up its Shopee e-commerce platform, particularly in markets such as Indonesia, the company said in a statement Monday. It added that Shopee's annualised gross merchandise value more than doubled in size over the past nine months to US$3 billion.

Investors in the latest funding round included Taiwan's Cathay Financial, the Philippines' JG Summit, and Indonesia's GDP Venture, which was an existing investor. Sea said its current group of investors hailed from more than 10 countries and included sovereign funds as well as business families from Asia, North America, and Europe.

Founded in 2009, the Singapore company offered two other core services apart from e-commerce, namely, its online games brand Garena and payments platform, AirPay. Rebranding to Sea would help establish an overarching identity across the company's three businesses, said founder and group CEO, Forrest Li.

The new name also reflected its focus on Southeast Asia, he said.

In addition to its rebranding announcement, the company said it had appointed three new advisors: Singapore's former foreign minister, George Yeo; Indonesia's former trade minister Mari Pangestu; and director of Indonesia's PT Toba Bara Sejahtra, Pandu Sjahrir.

Sea's fattened coffers could help strengthen its footprint in the region's e-commerce market, which was seeing intense competition with Alibaba Group's increased investment, including its US$1 billion acquisition of Southeast Asian e-commerce operator, Lazada Group. Amazon also was rumoured to be setting up operations in Singapore as its launchpad into Southeast Asia.

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