Jenny Lee, managing partner of GGV Capital, at a conference in Singapore in September. Lee will co-lead the Asia side of the business as it becomes its own firm, according to GGV.
(Ore Huiying/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
By Michelle Toh | CNN
Hong Kong — GGV Capital, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm, has become the latest big investor to break up its US and China operations into separate companies as tensions between the two countries over tech and geopolitics continue to rise.
The firm announced Thursday that it would divide its business into two “completely independent” firms with separate new brands, which have not been revealed.
According to the company, one side will concentrate on North America, Latin America, Europe, Israel and cross-border US-India deals, led by teams in California and New York by managing partners Glenn Solomon, Hans Tung, Jeff Richards and Oren Yunger.
The other side will focus on China, Southeast Asia and South Asia, run from its headquarters in Singapore, by managing partners Jenny Lee and Jixun Foo.
GGV’s existing Chinese yuan-denominated funds “will continue to be managed independently” under its Chinese brand, Jiyuan Capital, it said.
In a statement, the firm attributed the decision to the fact that “over the last decade, the investment landscape has shifted significantly, and the operating environment has become highly complex.”
“Against these new realities, GGV is also evolving,” it added, without elaborating further.
The transition is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of next year.
GGV Capital has approximately $9.2 billion in assets under management. The firm is known for backing tech companies around the world, such as Alibaba (BABA), Airbnb (ABNB), Slack, TikTok owner ByteDance and Chinese ride-hailing provider Didi.
The move comes as US-China tensions continue to affect how businesses operate across the world’s top two economies.
Last month, the Biden administration announced it would restrict investments by US venture capital and private equity firms, as well as joint ventures, in Chinese artificial intelligence, quantum computing and semiconductors.
The executive order will exacerbate a slump in deals between the United States and China, and deliver a “major blow” to Chinese startups, analysts and investors previously told CNN.
Asked whether the US order or wider geopolitical tensions had factored into its decision, GGV Capital declined to comment.
The firm has recently come under greater scrutiny from US lawmakers.
In July, a US House committee said it had sent letters to four investment firms, including GGV, “expressing serious concern and demanding information about the firms’ investments” in artificial intelligence, chips and quantum computing companies in China.
One investment named was a GGV deal with Megvii, an AI developer. The company is best known for its facial recognition software, and has long been accused of human rights violations against Uyghurs and other members of Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjiang region.
Megvii was added to a US trade blacklist in 2019 over the issue and previously told CNN that there were “no grounds” for that decision.
The ongoing pressure has already led other firms to separate their US and Chinese businesses this year.
In June, top global venture capital firm Sequoia announced a similar decision to cordon off its operations into three entities that cover Europe and the United States; China; and India and Southeast Asia. Its China business will be run independently under its Chinese name, Hongshan.
Leaders of the Silicon Valley firm said at the time that it had “become increasingly complex to run a decentralized global investment business.”
In August, Dentons, a leading law firm, also said its China unit would become a standalone legal entity, in response to new Chinese regulations related to data privacy, cybersecurity and capital control.
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