Billionaire Forrest Li’s Sea To Raise Over $6 Billion As Singapore Tech Giant Eyes Global Expansion

By Jonathan Burgos, Contributor
Forrest Li, chairman and group chief executive officer of Sea Ltd., poses for a photograph in Singapore on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Demand for Sea's mobile games and online-shopping platform has surged during the pandemic, and the company is bidding on a Singapore digital-banking license to accelerate its push into financial services. Photographer: Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg © 2020 Bloomberg Finance LP

Sea Ltd.—controlled by billionaire Forrest Li— said Thursday it will raise over $6 billion to bankroll the New York-listed tech giant’s global expansion plans.

The Singapore-headquartered online gaming and e-commerce firm said it will offer 11 million American depositary shares, subject to market conditions. Those shares are worth $3.8 billion based on Sea’s closing price in New York on Wednesday.

Apart from the ADS offering, Sea said it also plans to offer $2.5 billion worth of equity-linked debt. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and BofA Securities are managing the offerings.

Sea—Southeast Asia’s largest company by market cap—has been aggressively expanding its e-commerce platform Shopee’s operations across Latin America to tap on the growing demand for online shopping from consumers stuck at home because of the pandemic. Shopee is also reportedly preparing to launch in Europe and India.  

The Shopee office in the one-north business park in Singapore, on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. In the financial mecca of Singapore, technology companies have been steadily growing their footprint in recent years, chipping away at the dominance of banks in the island-state's central business district. Photographer: Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg © 2021 Bloomberg Finance LP

Li, 43, cofounded Sea with Gang Ye and David Chen in 2009, the year the trio launched online gaming platform Garena. Originally from mainland China, the partners are now naturalized Singapore citizens and billionaires in their own right.

Shares of Sea surged after the company reported on August 17 that first-half revenues more than doubled to $4 billion from the previous year. Despite the rising revenues, losses widened to $856.1 million from $674.5 million the previous year amid rising costs for sales and marketing.

With an estimated net worth of $18.9 billion, Li now ranks as Singapore’s second-wealthiest person, just behind Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin’s $20.7 billion on the Real-Time Billionaires List. A Brazilian native, Saverin has been a Singapore resident since renouncing his U.S. citizenship in 2012. Meanwhile, Ye’s net worth is $12.2 billion and Chen’s is $3.7 billion.

The fortunes of Li and his cofounders soared last year as Sea shares skyrocketed after the pandemic fueled demand for online shopping and gaming. Sea has a market cap of $185 billion, making it the most valuable company in Southeast Asia.

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