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  CNET : News : Story Sunday, February 13, 2000 

MSC's venture fund invests in first four
By Julian Matthews
Friday, February 11 2000

KUALA LUMPUR--Malaysia has approved about RM15 million in venture capital funding for four companies under its fledgling MSC Venture One fund.

"We have invested RM3 million in GO2020.com MSC Sdn Bhd while three others are to be announced soon," said Sarina Karim, chief executive of fund manager MSC Venture Corporation.

Sarina said GO2020 is an application service provider (ASP) for e-commerce solutions, while the three others were involved in Internet, software and telecommunications businesses.

GO2020 is a start-up led by former IT journalist Derrik Khoo, and is controlled by Generasi 2020 Sdn Bhd, an Internet investment company, while local telecommunications company Sapura Holdings Sdn Bhd has a 25 percent stake via its investment arm.

"We admire aggressive entrepreneurs who are dedicated and committed and can move their companies forward," said Sarina on choosing the four companies.

Sarina added that the fund managers have reviewed about 70 companies in the last six months, and some are preparing their business plans for evaluation.

"We found some entrepreneurs are technically proficient but are challenged when it comes to preparing a thorough business plan," she said.

She said some start-ups also had not assembled the right management team with expertise in different areas to realize their goals. "The composition of the team is important. We may need to find key personnel to fill the gaps in areas such as marketing, business development or even the CEO position," she said.

Sarina also cleared the misconception that companies applying need "MSC status" to qualify for the funding.

"Some companies may not have applied for MSC status but need funds to get off the ground. As long as their businesses are in line with the MSC vision in terms of developing high value-added content, then we're open to them," she said.

MSC status is given out to companies planning to invest and do research within the 750 sq km Multimedia Super Corridor south of Kuala Lumpur.

Close to 300 companies have received MSC status so far, including subsidiaries of the some largest IT and telecommunication players in the world.„

„She added the fund is also open to applicants who may have already received grants under the MSC R&D Grant scheme (MGS) or from angel investors or other venture capital funds (VCs).

"We're prepared to look at all cases. We are also looking for co-investments where other VCs will be invited to share the cake, so to speak," she said.

She said the charter of the current fund is to invest mainly in companies based in Malaysia, but future funds may expand to invest in companies beyond local shores.

Sarina said she is encouraged to see more VCs showing interest to invest in the region.

"Asia is an emerging market. The big firms have not come yet but the smaller, private VCs are interested and looking to fund smaller deals," she said.

The RM120 million MSC Venture One fund was set up by the government last year to support the MSC initiatives after US venture capitalists spurned overtures to come to Malaysia.

MSC Venture Corporation is a subsidiary of MSC developer and promoterMultimedia Development Corporation.

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