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China makes its mark in corporate venture capital investment

Two Chinese corporate venture capital groups – Baidu Ventures and Legend Capital – were among the world’s top five most active last year based on the number of companies in which they invested, according to a report from CB Insights.

The report stated that corporate venture units participated in $52.95 billion worth of funding across 2,740 deals in 2018. The figures do not include strategic investments that companies made directly into start-ups.

Baidu Ventures, the investment unit of internet giant Baidu and Legend Capital, a subsidiary of Chinese investment holding firm Legend Holdings, ranked fourth and fifth respectively after Google Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Intel Capital. Last year was the first time Baidu Ventures ranked in the top five most active, according to the report.

Their presence in the top five was despite China’s escalating trade tensions with the US and concerns that the country’s economic growth rate is cooling.

Internet start-ups favoured

The report found that internet start-ups were particularly successful in attracting investment from corporate venture capital firms. Deals backed by corporate VCs grew by 36% year-on-year and funding jumped by 80% to $21.2 billion in 2018, including an increase in larger deal sizes, according to CB Insights.

For example, India’s OYO, an online hotel booking start-up, raised $1 billion in new funds last September for international expansion. Other sectors to attract corporate funds last year include mobile – where Southeast Asian ride-hailing giants Grab and Gojek have raised billions – and health care.

Asia accounted for 38% of all corporate VC-backed deals last year. Chinese start-ups attracted more corporate interest than before, with funding 51% higher at $10.8 billion and the number of corporate venture capital-backed deals growing 54% to 351.

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