Nassim Khadem Reporter

Nassim covers the accounting and tax rounds for BRW, as well as general business news. She previously worked for The Age newspaper covering general news, state politics and economics.

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Young rich star Patrick Grove plans $US150m Asian investment expansion

Published 01 April 2013 12:19, Updated 04 April 2013 09:23

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Young rich star Patrick Grove plans $US150m Asian investment expansion

Patrick Grove says he’s been one of the largest investors in the online sector in the ASEAN region since the late 1990s. Photo: Andrew Quilty

Internet and media entrepreneur Patrick Grove is targeting new technology companies in Asia.

The BRW Young Rich star, who was last year valued at $70 million, says he intends to invest $US150 million on online businesses in the region covered by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the next five years.

He says he’s chasing “high growth markets” following last year’s successful launch of his third online company, ASX-listed iCar Asia, which owns car sales websites across Asia.

“Over the past 13 years we’ve invested in or acquired over 50 online and technology companies,” he says. “We see that activity ramping up considerably.”

Over the past 13 years we’ve invested in or acquired over 50 online and technology companies. We see that activity ramping up considerably

Grove now holds a portfolio of online assets worth more than $US300 million. This includes iCar Asia, as well as his earlier investments iProperty Group, an ASX-listed company based in Kuala Lumpur that owns online property websites across Asia. That company alone is worth more than $US170 million. He also runs media and entertainment business Catcha Group.

Grove says he’s been one of the largest investors in the online sector in the ASEAN region since the late 1990s. He now controls a large chunk of the region’s seven publicly listed companies focusing on the online sector. “Almost half of this list is comprised of companies founded and controlled by Catcha Group,” he says.

In regard to his planned investments, he says they are not completed yet, “but expect more from iCar Asia”.

“After listing the business last September we recently raised $A13 million from Carsales.com to buy 19.9 per cent of the business,” he told BRW. “We are very excited about that partnership and part of the funds will be used to acquire more car-related online companies across the ASEAN.”

He says iProperty is also looking for more acquisitions. “It would be fair to say another two more are likely this year given the company’s history,” he says.

Grove says the macro picture in Asia is strong, with high broadband and smartphone penetration. He cites online figures from Internet World Stats showing that in the year 2000, the ASEAN region had only 11.5 million internet users. By 2012 this number grew to 163.5 million.

“With the population of this region set to grow to 660 million by 2020, there’s potential for further growth,” Grove says. “We see a huge boom in the ASEAN markets in all online categories and want to remain the leading investor in the region.”

Outside of classifieds, Grove says he’s interested in e-commerce and smartphone apps with “mass market adoption”.

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