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MyRepublic tops up S$70m war chest; sets Q1 2018 for mobile launch

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MyRepublic says it will go into a mobile virtual network operator tie-up with a local telco to launch its consumer mobile services. It declined to name its local telco partner for now.

Singapore

THERE'S no need for MyRepublic to ask who's on the other end of the line this time: The telecommunications company has picked up a lead investor in its latest funding round.

The injection of S$70 million from financial services firm Makara Capital, announced on Wednesday, will "push the gas" on the telco's business growth plans, says its chief executive.

Malcolm Rodrigues also gave an update on the company's planned consumer mobile services roll-out and public listing.

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Makara Capital chief executive and co-founder Ali Ijaz Ahmad told a media briefing that his firm was taking "a substantial stake" in MyRepublic and has not ruled out chipping in again if the investment pans out well.

Makara's director of investments Kelvin Tan said in a statement that the capital will have "a focus on (intellectual property) management and monetisation, scaling and expansion".

MyRepublic had kicked off its Series C fund-raising round earlier this year, with an original target of S$100 million, but Mr Rodrigues said that he will now set his sights higher.

The fund-raising could yield "at least S$150 million", he noted. "It looks like we'll be fortunate enough to go beyond the S$100 million in terms of the money that we can tap into, and we'll use that to accelerate our business."

Mr Rodrigues said that the cash from the billion-dollar Makara Innovation Fund will "effectively triple the business over the next few years and drive the valuation further".

"The use of proceeds fundamentally is around growing our consumer business, growing our enterprise business in our four markets, and as well investing in the platform to drive the capability for our growth."

MyRepublic now operates in Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia; it also wants to grow in South-east Asia, and hopes to expand into markets like Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Mr Rodrigues also said the move would "supercharge" the development of the company's proprietary cloud platform, which he credited with enabling growth in new markets.

Separately, the "telcotech" player confirmed that it is eyeing the first quarter of next year for a roll-out of consumer mobile services here, by way of a deal with a telecom incumbent.

Last year, MyRepublic lost out to Australia's TPG Telecom in the contest to be Singapore's fourth telco.

The upcoming launch of its consumer mobile services will be through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) tie-up with a local telco, which it declined to name at this stage.

The MVNO model entails leasing another company's capacity - like how service provider Circles.Life has partnered M1.

Mr Rodrigues reiterated that MyRepublic is on track to list in the next 18 months: "With Makara taking the lead, with some follow-up investors, we expect to be oversubscribed."

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