January 21, 2021
By Anshuman Daga and Liz Lee
SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A Malaysian e-wallet operator owned by CIMB Group and China’s Ant Group is in advanced talks with investors to raise at least $150 million to fund expansion plans, four sources familiar with the matter said.
The coronavirus pandemic has propelled demand for digital payment services around the world, but Malaysia’s market is particularly competitive with nearly 50 players. The venture, TNG Digital Sdn Bhd, says its Touch ‘n Go e-wallet is the country’s biggest with more than 15 million registered users.
TNG Digital is negotiating with global banks, asset managers and others, the sources said, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.
Two sources said the fundraising is expected to give TNG Digital a valuation of more than $700 million and it could end up raising about $250 million in total this year.
“TNG wants to step up its presence in financial services. This is where the market growth is,” said one of the sources.
The two sources said the new fundraising will result in CIMB and Ant Group paring their stakes but they will remain the biggest investors in the business.
CIMB and its unit Touch ‘n Go Sdn Bhd which owns 51% of TNG Digital declined to comment. Ant Group, which holds 49%, said it would defer to its partners when asked for comment.
Ant Group has cut funding and staff support to many of the overseas e-wallet firms it has invested in as it pivots away from earlier ambitions of becoming a global payments leader.
TNG Digital has secured approval from the Malaysian securities regulator to directly distribute capital market products including money market unit trust funds. It is partnering with Principal Asset Management, one of the country’s biggest fund managers.
Rival e-wallet firms are also keen to expand and last year insurer Great Eastern invested $70 million in the fintech business of Malaysian telecoms firm Axiata, which operates the e-wallet Boost.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Liz Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)