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Java(TM)-Based Venture Capital Fund Launched for Asian Technology Start-ups

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 October 99 (MSC Times)-: Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced the launch of the Asia Java Venture Fund which totals US$48 million.
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor
KUALA LUMPUR, 22 October 99 (MSC Times)-: Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced the launch of the Asia Java Venture Fund which totals US$48 million. The primary aim of the fund is to assist new technology companies, whose business is developed on Sun's Java technology platform, to launch their products to the global marketplace.

The Asia Java Venture Fund furthers efforts by Sun to bolster Java technology-based developments in Asia. The fund will be used for making investments ranging from US$500,000 to US$2.5 million in individual start-up companies. Initial investment prospects have already been identified in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The Asia Java Venture Fund will be managed by AsiaTech Ventures, a leading Internet-focused venture capital firm.

Investors in the Asia Java Venture Fund are predominantly from the private and corporate sectors. Other Asia Java Fund major investors include Pacific Century Cyberworks of Hong Kong; Singapore Telecom and the Technopreneurship Investment Fund (TIF) of Singapore. In addition, Japan's Fujitsu, NTT DoCoMo, Mitsui & Co., Nomura/Jafco, and from Hong Kong Cable & Wireless HKT, Sun Hung Kai Properties are also investors in the Asia Java Venture Fund.

The Technopreneurship Investment Fund (TIF) also made a contribution to the Asia Java Venture Fund, which is in line with Singapore's Technopreneurship 21 objectives of developing technopreneurial talent and helping start-up companies to grow to become international industry players.

"I congratulate AsiaTech for putting together such a powerful group of investors which is substantial in Asia," said Ed Zander, president and chief operating officer of Sun. "The industry expertise, knowledge base and global reach of the investors, coupled with Sun's technology skills and NCB's local contacts, will be critical to the success stories of Asia Java Venture Fund companies."

"The Asia Java Venture Fund is designed to stimulate knowledge-based economies in singapore and the region," said Michael Yap, chief executive officer of NCB. "The establishment of this fund is a testimony to Singapore's efforts to make available quality financing to encourage local technopreneurs to develop innovative ideas. While the fund is based in Singapore, it will also allow for investments in other Asian countries. We believe that this approach will enhance Singapore's role as a regional technology, e-commerce and financial hub.

The investment by the TIF marks one of the first in a VC fund, under the banner of the technopreneurship effort, that was launched by the Singapore Government earlier this year. Detailing NCB's co-operation with Sun Microsystems, Yap said, "Helping to bring in quality fund to a country is a key strategy in developing a deep and innovative industry. Beyond money, funds such as the Asia Java Venture Fund will help bring early and important access to technology and market access. We encourage more companies such as SUN to play a catalytic role."

The appointment of a private sector venture capital firm to manage the Asia Java Venture Fund reflects Singapore's determination to use the best professional expertise available to reinforce the country's technopreneurship drive.

"We are proud and honored to have been chosen by Sun Microsystems, NCB as well as this prominent group of investors to manage the Asia Java Venture Fund," said Hanson Cheah, co-founder and executive director of AsiaTech Ventures. "We see tremendous potential for Asian start-ups to use this technology to regionalize and globalize. With our international offices throughout Asia and the US, and our track record and expertise in the Internet sector, we are well positioned to spearhead the effort."

The investment focus will be on emerging enterprises that are "Java technology-centric" and have a strong growth potential. These companies could be developing Java-based software tools, or be involved in e-commerce activities or manufacturing electronic devices. AsiaTech Ventures will not only provide start-up capital from the Asia Java Venture Fund, but also play an active role in providing technical, marketing and operational advice.

"In keeping with the philosophy of AsiaTech Ventures, we intend to be a true partner in the participating companies' successes, as opposed to a passive financial investor," said Cheah. AsiaTech Ventures predicts that demand for locally developed technology will grow as Asian companies increasingly understand the need and benefits of using cutting-edge technology that is tailored for their local business practices and management modes. AsiaTech Ventures expects to invest at least 15 percent of the total fund in Singaporean companies, with the remainder to be invested in other Asian countries.

"Incorporating local language, cultural and operational features in applications will provide the local software developers with an edge over the established multinationals," said James Yao, co-founder and executive director of AsiaTech Ventures based in Silicon Valley. "I believe, given the regional move towards a knowledge-based economy and a fast developing e-commerce industry in Asia, the launch of this fund is very timely."

The Asia Java Venture Fund is one of the initiatives under the Java Tarik programme, outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the National Computer Board (NCB), Kent Ridge Digital Labs and Sun Microsystems in May last year. The aim of Java Tarik programme is to develop Singapore into a centre of excellence for Java-based innovations and applications.

About AsiaTech Ventures
AsiaTech Ventures is one of the first Asia-Pacific venture capital firms specializing in the Internet and communications industries. With offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei and California's Silicon Valley, the company has three additional funds under management, totaling more than US$70 million. It aims to be the Asia Pacific region's premier technology venture capital firm by combining Asia and US capital with innovation and US management and technology expertise.

With its transfer of technology concept, AsiaTech Ventures positions itself as a key player in stimulating the latest developments of start-up Internet, e-commerce and other high-technology industries in the Asia-Pacific region. For more information about AsiaTech Ventures please visit the web site: www.asiatechv.com

About Cable & Wireless HKT
Cable & Wireless HKT, a Cable & Wireless company, is Hong Kong's major full-service communications provider, marketing a full array of quality voice and data telecommunication services backed by a state-of-the-art, fully digital fibre-optic network. Services include basic telephony, mobile telephony, international calls, specialized fax and data products, value-added services, Internet access, multimedia services, satellite links and telecommunications equipment and systems.

Apart from owning and operating Asia's largest commercial teleport, Cable & Wireless HKT is a pioneer in a wide range of communications solutions, such as launching the world's first fully digitized urban network, the world's first fibre-optic cable linking China, and the world's first interactive television services.Cable & Wireless HKT is committed to providing and developing a range of interactive multimedia services and broadband applications.

Its wholly owned subsidiary, Cable & Wireless HKT IMS was the first company to be awarded a "Video On Demand Programme Services" licence in Hong Kong. It officially launched the world's first broadband Interactive TV (iTV) service in March 1998.

Cable & Wireless HKT also offers Internet access service NETVIGATOR, which is currently the largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Hong Kong. It was the first ISP to provide local content, on-line ticketing, as well as cyber-shopping in Hong Kong. NETVIGATOR also offers the first broadband Internet access service in Hong Kong NETVIGATOR 1.5M Ultra Line, which provides a super-fast access speed of up to 1.5Mbps.

With customers in 70 countries, Cable & Wireless is a major global telecommunications business with revenue of around 8 billion in the year ended March 1999 and over 50,000 employees. Its businesses around the world offer a range of services spanning broadband data and Internet access, fixed and mobile voice, as well as interactive entertainment and information. Cable & Wireless' priority for expansion is the fast growing market of data and IP (Internet Protocol) services for business customers.

Since November 1998, it has announced major investments in advanced networks in the US and Europe, the restructuring of Cable & Wireless Communications in the UK and has acquired full control of Cable & Wireless IDC in Japan to support this strategy. Cable & Wireless now holds a unique position in terms of global coverage and services to business customers.

About Fujitsu Limited
Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) is a leading provider of comprehensive information technology and network solutions for the global marketplace. Comprising over 500 group companies and affiliates worldwide including ICL, Amdahl and DMR Consulting Group -- the Fujitsu Group had consolidated revenues of 5.24 trillion yen (US$43.3 billion) in the fiscal year ended March 31, 1999.

With world-class hardware and software technology in computers, telecommunications and microelectronics, and a corps of 55,000 systems and services experts around the world, Fujitsu is uniquely positioned to harness the power of the network to help its customers succeed. Altogether, the Fujitsu Group has 188,000 employees and operations in over 100 countries.

About Pacific Century CyberWorks Limited
Pacific Century CyberWorks Limited ("PCCW", Bloomberg: 1186; Reuters: 1186.HK) is the Pacific Century Group's Hong Kong-listed technology flagship. PCCW, through its CyberWorksVentures (CWV) arm, enters into and invests in local and international information technology and Internet businesses.

CyberWorksVentures, PCCW's Internet investment vehicle, is creating the pre-minent incubation environment for established and start-up Internet businesses in Asia. CWV also acts as a pan-Asian partner to leading international Internet companies. In September 1999, CWV agreed to exchange US$350 million worth of ordinary shares of PCCW for US$350 million worth of common stock in NASDAQ-listed CMGI, and to discuss joint development of the two companies' Internet-related business activities in Asia and the US.

The Pacific Century Group is the sole partner with the Government of Hong Kong in the approximately US$1.6 billion Cyber-Port project announced by the Financial Secretary Donald Tsang in his 1999 Budget. The Cyber-Port is a comprehensive facility designed to foster the development of Hong Kong's information services sector through the formation of a strategic cluster of both information technology and services companies at the one location. For further information, visit www.pcg-group.com and www.cyber-port.com

About National Computer Board
The National Computer Board is a statutory board under the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry. It is responsible for spearheading information technology (IT) development in Singapore, including implementing the IT2000 master plan that will transform Singapore into an Intelligent Island. For more information about the NCB please visit their web site at www.ncb.gov.sg

About National Computer Systems
National Computer Systems Pte Ltd (NCS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Singapore Telecom Group, is a leading IT service provider in Singapore. NCS serves the needs of both the public and private sectors in Singapore, as well as the region. Its core competencies in information infrastructure development, systems integration, enterprise knowledge management, internet commerce and IT outsourcing services are focused on these niche industries and business sectors: Government, Healthcare & Education; Construction, Transportation & Manufacturing; Justice & Security; Telecommunications industry; and Financial Services. With more than 1900 trained and experienced IT professionals in the region, NCS is well positioned to deliver projects of any size and scale. For more information on NCS, please visit our Web site at www.ncs.com.sg.

NCS and the NCS logo are service trademarks of National Computer Systems Pte Ltd.

About NTT DoCoMo
NTT Mobile Communications Network, Inc. (NTT DoCoMo), Japan's largest mobile communications operator, took over in July 1992 the mobile communications operations and sales of NTT, Japan's largest telecommunications company (recently reorganized). It provides a comprehensive range of wireless services including cellular telephone, paging, satellite mobile communications, maritime and in-flight telephone, and more. These services are supplied nationwide by nine regional subsidiaries, and the company also has subsidiaries in Paris (DoCoMo Europe S.A.) and Brazil (NTT DoCoMo Telecommunicacoes do Brasil Limitada) and will establish two subsidiaries in U.S. in this November.

NTT DoCoMo had more than 26.4 million mobile phone subscribers as of June 1999, including users of Personal Digital Cellular (PDC) and Personal Handyphone System (PHS) mobile phones. Consolidated sales amounted to \3.1 trillion (US$27 billion) in fiscal 1998 (ended March 1999).

NTT DoCoMo expects to introduce a third-generation mobile communications system based on its Wideband CDMA (W-CDMA) system next year. The company was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in October 1998.

About Nomura/Jafco Investment (Asia) Ltd.
Nomura/Jafco Investment (Asia) Ltd. ("NJI") was incorporated in Singapore on 12 March 1990 to undertake fund management activities for the purpose of providing development capital and consulting services for medium sized unlisted companies with high growth potential in the Asia Pacific region. NJI is a wholly owned subsidiary of JAFCO Co., Ltd.

Since its establishment, NJI has expanded to eight offices in the Asia Pacific region and manages six private equity funds in excess of US$540 million. NJI has invested in over 210 companies of which more than 75 have been publicly listed or divested in private. As at 30 June 1999, NJI has an authorized capital of S$30 million and issued and paid up capital of S$15m.

About JAFCO Co., Ltd.
Japan Associated Finance Co., Ltd. ("JAFCO") was established in April 1973 by The Nomura Securities Co., Ltd. and other companies to make equity investments in private, mid-sized venture companies. Jafco became the first publicly traded venture capital firm in Japan in June 1987, changing its name to JAFCO Co. Ltd. in August 1997.

Jafco makes private equity investments on a global basis and has invested JPY210 billion in total. As of March 31, 1999, Jafco had invested in 1,700 companies in Japan and 192 companies outside Japan. A total of 485 companies have gone public, consisting of 422 companies in Japan and 63 companies outside Japan.

About Sun Hung Kai Properties
Sun Hung Kai Properties is one of Hong Kong's largest property developers, with a focus on premium-quality products and services. The company also has diverse interests in infrastructure and transportation, and in recent years it has been adopting new technology in various applications for both its operations and the properties it develops.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision, "The Network is the Computer(TM)", has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc., (NASDAQ "SUNW"), to its position as a leading provider of hardware, software and services for establishing enterprise-wide intranets and expanding the power of the Internet. With $12.4 billion in annual revenues, Sun can be found in more than 150 countries and on the WorldWide Web at http://www.sun.com.

Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, Java and The Network is The Computer are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Asia Java Fund Pte Ltd. Is independent of Sun and uses the Java mark under license.

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