Saban relocates to Singapore

The media-focused firm has closed its Hong Kong office and opened in Singapore, where there are more TMT opportunities than in Greater China, says director Sumeet Jaisinghani.

Saban Capital Group Asia has opened the doors to its Singapore office, having closed its presence in Hong Kong, according to a company statement. The office opened in mid-April and is headed by Sumeet Jaisinghani, director at Saban.

The firm opened its Hong Kong office in 2011, when Jaisinghani relocated from its headquarters in Los Angeles. However, Saban decided to relocate to Singapore after finding fewer opportunities in the media and communications sector in Greater China than Southeast Asia, Jaisinghani told Private Equity International.

Saban will continue to look for opportunities in Greater China and still holds its investment in Taomee, a China-based children’s online entertainment company. 

“China is fairly restrictive in the types of investments foreign investors can make in media and communications,” he said. “Significant state ownership of media-related assets inherently puts up natural barriers on the types of deals you can do.”

In contrast, Saban believes Southeast Asia is a hugely attractive and under-exploited market for media and communication investments, in particular Indonesia. The firm has five investments in Asia, three of which are in Indonesia, according to the firm. 

“Although we were not based in Jakarta, we have spent a lot of time in Indonesia, with our partner and his team. The more time we spend there, the more impressed we are, not only with the market potential, but the potential of the companies we’ve invested in. We think when you look at media globally, not just in Asia, Indonesia is one of the most attractive countries to be in today.”

When you look at media globally, not just in Asia, Indonesia is one of the most attractive countries to be in today

Sumeet Jaisinghani, director, Saban Capital

Saban has only been in Asia since 2010, but has made three investments in Indonesia – a market where some GPs have struggled to find deals. Jaisinghani believes the relationship with the firm’s local partner Pak Hary Tanoesoedibjo has been hugely beneficial to the firm. 

“All three of our [Indonesia] investments are with the same partner,” he explains. “We met [him] through one of our existing portfolio investments and I think that highlights how [helpful] it is to invest across the same vertical in multiple geographies in Asia. [The relationship] has turned into a very successful series of investments for us.”

Saban Capital is a private investment firm that manages the capital of media mogul Haim Saban, investing only in media, communications and entertainment businesses globally. The firm’s investments in Asia include a $78 million investment in a 5 percent stake in Media Nusantara Citra, an Indonesian news and entertainment company that broadcasts English Premier League and World Cup football, in October 2011.

The firm also anchored the $228 million IPO of MNC Skyvision alongside Creador in July 2012.