Firm with Singapore funds lists in London

PHOTO: Firm with Singapore funds lists in London

A Singapore-funeded company that streams TV and video content to mobile devices has listed on a London exchange for smaller companies.

SyQic raised about £3.2 million (S$6.6 million) from its initial public offering (IPO) on the Aim board, which is part of the London Stock Exchange.

The counter opened at 62p on Wednesday and closed at about 83p, which put the company at a value of £14.4 million.

The firm, now based in Britain, received $589,000 from Singapore venture capital firm Stream Global and the National Research Foundation (NRF).

It is the first start-up funded by NRF's Technology Incubation Scheme to list. Under the scheme, NRF partners local venture capital companies to provide seed funding.

NRF chief executive Low Teck Seng said: "SyQic has shown that with the right mix of talent, mentors and financial support, Singapore-based start-ups can do very well in overseas markets as well."

SyQic's founder, Singaporean Jamal Hassim, 45, said the IPO funds will be used to underpin expansion in Britain, Europe, Asia and the United States.

The company targets immigrants and has about a million viewers, mostly in its key markets of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Its services include offering Bollywood movies from India and Tagalog movies from the Philippines. It also offers family-friendly TV, which includes news, game shows, sports and on-demand paid video content.

Competitors offer either entertainment or live channels but few provide both, said Mr Jamal.

SyQic works with local telecommunications companies to offer content, which includes 20,000 titles and 70 live TV channels. "We have a revenue-sharing model where the telcos get a minority share of the subscriptions collected from users," said Mr Jamal, who was in Singapore Thursday.

He chose London for the listing because it is halfway between the US and Asia. He noted that the US is a developed market and "we aren't ready for it yet", while Asia does not yet know how to value technology start-ups.

SyQic's plans include starting a new service to stream content over the Internet to mobile devices - what is known as an over-the-top (OTT) service.

"In developed nations, people are more familiar with buying content over the Internet. So we're starting the OTT service in Western Europe and Asia, including Singapore," added Mr Jamal.

Forrester senior analyst Clement Teo said the challenge for OTT providers is to ensure that they have exclusive content. "If content providers can license their content to other OTT providers, then SyQic will lose its first-mover advantage," he noted.

Mr Jamal, who is signing up content producers in Eastern Europe and Latin America, has more than 20 years' experience in media, content, advertising and branding. He was the chief operating officer of SPH MediaWorks and the founder and co-owner of Channel 9 in Malaysia.

SyQic, which is based in Buckinghamshire, near London, was founded nine years ago as a broadcasting consultancy. It now employs about 40 people globally.

It has been profitable for each of the past three financial years, with revenue growing from £987,000 in 2010 to £3.9 million last year, when it made a pre-tax profit of £625,000.

SyQic believes the market for Internet TV will boom in the coming years, and it expects global revenues to increase from an estimated £5.6 billion this year to £30.87 billion in 2017.

Stream Global CEO Chak Kong Soon said his firm has benefited hugely from SyQic's listing - its investment has increased about fivefold in value.

Mr Chak is a SyQic director while Stream Global chairman Bill Liu chairs the SyQic board.

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