Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Ninja Van secures $279M in new funds amidst COVID-19 online buying frenzy

Singapore-base logistics services operator raises $279 million in its Series D round, which pulled in new and existing investors such as B Capital, Grab, Monk's Hill Ventures, and GeoPost.

Singapore's parcel delivery operator Ninja Van has secured $279 million in new funds amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which has fuelled an online buying frenzy as consumers stay home. It plans to use the latest funds injection to drive its presence in the business-to-business (B2B) segment as well as expand its services for small businesses and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands. 

Ninja Van's Series D funding round pulled in new investors including Carmenta, Grab, and Golden Gate Ventures Growth Fund, as well as returning investors Monk's Hill Ventures, GeoPost, which led the latest round, and B Capital, which is helmed by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

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Ninja Van said in a statement Tuesday it would tap the funds to boost its offerings in both B2B and B2C sectors. Founded in 2014, the Singapore-based company also has operations in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines and employs more than 30,000 across the six markets. It delivers a daily average of 1 million parcels. 

According to its website, Ninja Van clocks more than 1,000 parcels every minute and works with 35,000 shippers across Southeast Asia including e-commerce platforms Lazada, Tokopedia, Zalora, and Shopee.

Ninja Van CEO Lai Chang Wen said in the statement: "This new capital injection enables us to keep our focus on offering hassle-free delivery solutions for sellers and their customers across Southeast Asia."

Saverin also noted that the Singaporean company has been able to demonstrate "a strong, thriving business" and stressed the importance of sustainable operating models as one of several basic elements key to an organisation's success. "We believe companies like Ninja Van are built to survive and thrive throughout both strong economic climates and uncertain ones," he said. 

In a Bloomberg report, Lai said the company was profitable in half of the markets in which it operates and would need time to be fully profitable. He added that he might initiate another funding round before an IPO or sale. 

Pointing to investor interest, Lai said: "Logistics is something that is around to stay. Social distancing will have a profound effect. It may be an inflection point Southeast Asia needs for e-commerce."

The region's e-commerce sector was projected to be worth $150 billion by 2025, according to the 2019 e-Conomy Southeast Asia report released by Google, Temasek Holdings, and Bain & Company. Home to more than 150 million online shoppers, this sector was valued at $38 billion last year, compared to $5.5 billion in 2015.

E-commerce companies also snagged $2.5 billion in the first half of last year and, together with ride-sharing companies, accounted for two in every three dollars raised since 2016, the report stated. 

Singapore last month said it would offer funds and manpower to help small and midsized-business retailers kickstart their e-commerce journey, pledging to buffer 90% of the cost for doing so. Led by Enterprise Singapore, the new "e-commerce booster package" aimed to assist SMBs with little or no e-commerce experience in their digital transformation. 

The government agency said this was particularly critical amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when more consumers are staying home and turning to online channels. It is working with four e-commerce operators -- Lazada SingaporeQoo10Shopee, and Amazon -- to offer assistance to retailers in reaching local consumers.

Looking to tap the spike in grocery and food delivery services, Singapore's local taxi operator ComfortDelgro last week launched a food delivery service while Google enabled the discovery of food pick-up and delivery options across the city-state. 

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