Singapore’s Senjo Group invests US$1.2 million in B2B startup Tjaara that is to launch in Middle East


Senjō Group, a FinTech investment firm and global payments operator, made an announcement on Thursday, that it has formed a partnership and invested US$1.2 million and an additional US$20 million trade finance in Tjaara Pte, Ltd., a Singapore-based B2B service.

Tjaara, literally translated to marketplace in Arabic has been in the research phase for nearly two years before being incorporated in August 2016 – acting as a global purchaser to unaligned wholesalers and businesses in the market as it aids the process on their behalf.

“Tjaara is a B2B service that offers product search, language translation support, ordering, logistics and finance management. We realised that a lot of smaller and medium-sized retailers were unable to navigate Mandarin-only manufacturer listings or access factory-direct prices.” Fred Then, the co-founder of Tjaara said.

The startup also negotiates, conducts quality control checks from factory to port, and even acts as an escrow service to manage the complicated buying process between Chinese manufacturers and foreign companies. It aims to create a healthy local economy and enabling competitive businesses.

Explaining the process, Fred said, “Tjaara was built to help our end-users unlock a larger variety of products and larger profit margins through economies-of-scale. Unlike typical agents, Tjaara is also able to assist with product evaluation by obtaining samples for end-users; this is possible because of our close relationship with manufacturers.”

Additionally, Tjaara also applies a group-buy concept to aggregate demands from customers to present a large consolidated order to pre-qualified manufacturers. Tjaara’s customers or Channel Partners largely consist of businesses or individuals who wish to monetize their relationships with end-users.

“It is known that Chinese wholesale e-commerce platforms like Alibaba offer lower prices for local purchases, and when non-Chinese IP addresses are detected, the price is typically inflated. This is why Tjaara will always get better pricing as all buying is done locally through our China operations. And by consolidating the orders of small wholesalers, we’ll get more bulk discounts.” Fred adds.

Presently an invite-only platform, the service is only usable by vetted customers and selected channel partners who are allocated 50 complimentary translation requests per month. Tjaara users can view translated listings or request for a search for products.

“We are extremely excited by the generous support offered by Senjō, and their faith in us,” said Fred. “The biggest plus of working with an experienced partner like Senjō is definitely their expertise in payment systems and existing global footprint and connections. This will make our lives a lot easier. We are looking forward to scaling to greater heights with their support.”

Senjō Group is an investment company specialising in global electronic payments, trade finance, and e-commerce. Headquartered in Singapore, it has regional offices in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Luxembourg and the UK, and operations in most major markets across Asia, Europe, North American and Africa.

Senjō Group comprises five business units: Senjō Payments, Senjō Commerce, Senjō Ventures, Senjō Trading and Senjō Finance. As such, this is a complementary investment that synchronises with the firms existing business operations.

Commenting on the investment, Sam Evans, the VP and Head of Ventures of Senjō Group said that Tjaara demonstrates great potential in addressing market inefficiencies, even during less-than-ideal economic times. For even during falling global demands, Tjaara can address the means of SMEs that needs to save cost while maintaining product quality.

The soft launch of the service is slated in Q1 2017, while the plans for a full launch is scheduled in Q2 2017. The business initial market focus will be in the Middle East, or more specifically United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and North Africa.

A mobile app is also in the works to facilitate easier access.

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By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Thai F&N to purchase 5.4% stake owned in Vietnamese major Vinamilk for US$500 million

Thai F&N to purchase 5.4% stake owned in Vietnamese major Vinamilk for US$500 million

Thai Fraser & Neave (F&N) has made an announcement late on Wednesday, that it has submitted tenders to purchase another 5.4 percent stake in Vietnam’s largest business, Vinamilk.

The Thai beverage firm is expected to pay at least US$500 million for the 5.4 percent ownership stake of 9 percent Vinamilk shares that Vietnam’s State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) has auctioned. SCIC is present on Vinamilk’s management board as the largest shareholder, having 45 percent of its equity.

F&N is currently already a major shareholder at Vinamilk, owning 10.95 percent. But if the deal is done successfully, the group that is currently controlled by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi will increase the percentage of their ownership in Vinamilk to 16.35 percent.

As per Vinamilk’s disclosure, F&NBev Manufacturing and F&N Dairy Investments, two wholly owned subsidiaries of F&N, on December 7 has simultaneously registered their purchase to the Vietnamese securities commission and the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange where Vinamilk is listed as the biggest stock in terms of market capitalisation, for each acquiring 2.7 percent of the dairy company.

This is the maximum percentage each investor is generally allowed to buy in the forthcoming December 12 share auction, where Vietnam has decided to sell the first chunk of the 9 percent from the state ownership in Vinamilk.

December 12 is also the date where SCIC will conduct the public auction to sell the 130.6 million shares of the US$9 billion dairy company at the starting price of VND 144,000 per piece (about US$ 6.36). This translates into a transaction value equivalent to about US$500 million for F&N.

The method of transaction for F&N’s bids will be conducted via public auction, put through transaction and order matching on the stock exchange between December 12 and 10 January 2017, according to Vinamilk announcement.

Earlier August, Lee Meng Tat, CEO of Singapore-based F&N, has revealed to Bloomberg about Vinamilk being the potential target of the F&N Group in the ambition to expand their market share in Southeast Asia, going up against Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Vinamilk shares concluded Wednesday, trading at VND 132,500, declining VND 1,500, that is 1.1 percent compared with the end of the session the day before.

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By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media