Fundraising start-up Xen in talks with UN over impact platform – exclusive

The start-up is expected to reach $100m of total fund commitments later this month.

Xen, a Singaporean fundraising start-up, is in talks with the United Nations Development Programme to create an impact investing platform.

The partnership would involve Xen raising capital for direct investments in emerging markets start-ups that have graduated from a UNDP incubator, chief executive Katrina Cokeng told Private Equity International.

It is slated for launch in the second quarter of this year.

Xen has so far committed to two private equity funds, two venture capital funds and one portfolio of hedge funds, Cokeng said. The platform is expected to reach $100 million of total commitments this month.

The majority of Xen’s capital was provided by Chinese, South Korean and South-East Asian investors, with family offices accounting for around 80 percent of allocations to-date.

The start-up only features vehicles larger than $500 million; its tickets have ranged from $10 million to $25 million and are expected to reach up to $50 million this year and $100 million next year, Cokeng said.

The UNDP runs an ImpactAim venture accelerator supporting early stage and established start-ups that address identified gaps of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to its website. It selected global venture capital firm 500 Startups to run a similar programme in Indonesia last year.

Xen has achieved several hiring coups since its launch in 2018. The platform named Kenneth Yeo, a former senior director at Temasek subsidiary Azalea Asset Management, as its chief investment officer in January. Yeo, who had spent nine months at Azalea, had also served on the global investment committee of Allianz Capital Partners and spent 12 years at sovereign wealth fund GIC.

Yeo’s appointment followed that of Tim Janke, Blackstone’s first Asia-Pacific chief financial officer, in July. PEI caught up with Janke in August to discuss Xen’s methodology.

Fundraising platforms could grow in popularity as private equity funds seek relatively untapped sources of capital. Xen is joined in Asia by Hong Kong-based Privatemarket Technologies which had invested $100 million across seven funds as of May last year.

Meanwhile, Europe’s Moonfare has invested over €250 million with firms such as KKR, Apax Partners and the Carlyle Group, according to its website.

Some firms have institutionalised the process. Blackstone’s private wealth unit, for example, had raised well over $60 billion of assets under management as of 2018.