Thursday 14 November 2019

Musgrave raises $40m for Asian start-up

Alister Musgrave, one of the Cork Musgrave retail dynasty, has just helped raise $40m in series A funding for a smoking-hot Asian financial product comparison business centred in Hong Kong.

He has assembled some seriously heavy-hitting investors, including Goldman Sachs, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Route 66, Nova Founders and trading firm Jardine Pacific.

The former St Columba's and TCD graduate told me last week that CompareAsia - which he co-founded with Austrian Gerald Eder - was in a growth sweet spot.

"Two strong forces are coming together," he said, with Asian consumers shifting from offline to online and also getting more financially saavy.

Around 58pc of people in South East Asia don't have a bank account, which he describes as "a huge opportunity". The group has traction. "We have a 30pc to 50pc month-on-month growth rate," he added. The company is now employing 150 people and has spread to eight countries.

Musgrave was working in Sao Paolo when his former flatmate Eder came up with the idea to roll out a "money supermarket" type business in Asia. He moved to Hong Kong to help him get the business off the ground 18 months ago.

Incredibly, there was almost no way to compare financial products such as mortgages or credit cards in Hong Kong, giving the boys a monumental gap in the market to reverse into.

Hong Kong alone has seven million people and 18 million credit cards, Musgrave told me. The CompareAsia group, which is the parent for the MoneyHero website brands, makes money from referrals.

While Musgrave is cagey about valuations of the business after the $40m funding round, he concedes an IPO may be targeted in the future. "Yes. It's everyone's dream, but for now it's just day-by-day, and we'll focus on what were doing. It's a fantastic aspiration that everyone has."

The former Morgan Stanley investment banker is a son of Peter Musgrave, the largest shareholder in the retail/wholesale group. Musgrave, which operates as Supervalu and Centra, has just pipped Tesco to become Ireland's biggest grocery chain. Selling stuff is clearly in the family DNA.

Sunday Indo Business

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