JAPAN’S Mitsui & Co Ltd is acquiring a strategic minority stake in Axiata Digital Services Sdn Bhd (AD) – the digital services arm of Axiata Group Bhd.

Axiata said on Friday the investment establishes a pre-money enterprise value of $500 million for the core digital businesses of AD.

This include Boost, a leading e-wallet service in Malaysia with a presence in Indonesia; ada (analytics.data.advertising), the largest independent digital agency in the region; and Apigate, an emerging global API platform provider.

“Mitsui will become a strategic shareholder and business partner at AD’s core business verticals. The funds raised will be earmarked to fuel the next phase of growth for AD’s core businesses,” it said.

Axiata said AD was set up at the end of 2013 to support the increasingly digital lifestyle of Axiata consumers and grew to a portfolio of 30 brands.

By 2017, AD began to focus on being an operator of strategic digital businesses.

In digital financial services (Boost), AD focused on e-wallets, remittance, micro-insurance and micro-lending.

In advertising (ada), AD combines the best of data science, technology, creative and content, to disrupt marketing for brands and businesses across Asia.

On the platform side (Apigate), AD’s open source marketplace of scalable APIs helps connect OTTs to a world-class ecosystem and 3.5 billion customers of global MNOs through one secure, seamless platform.

Managing Officer, chief operating officer of the IT & Communications Business Unit at Mitsui, Masahiro Moriyasu said: “Axiata Digital is a powerful digital platform engaged in digital financial services, API and digital marketing.”

“As an expansion of our strategic partnership with Axiata, we are very excited about this investment in Axiata Digital which follows our earlier investment in Smart Axiata in Cambodia, the country’s largest mobile telecom operator,” he said.

Axiata Digital CEO Mohd Khairil Abdullah said: “Our shift to be more focused in the three vertical areas has seen our businesses grow at a strong pace in 2018.

“With the investment from a partner like Mitsui, we hope to further accelerate these businesses while still being focused on distinct financial innovations for consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, marrying data and creative content for brands as well as enabling rapid growth and monetisation for partners on our platform,” he said.

Axiata Digital recently announced it signed up to transfer the rest of its portfolio, called Digital Venture (DV) assets, to an international investment fund (Pegasus 7 Ventures Pte Ltd) managed by Gordian Capital at a valuation of $140 million.

Combined with the pre-money equity valuation of AD’s core digital businesses in view of Mitsui’s investment, the entire portfolio of AD is therefore valued at $640 million. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK