Sea Ponders Raising Funds for E-Commerce as Loss Triples

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(Bloomberg) -- Sea Ltd., operator of Southeast Asia’s biggest gaming platform, said it may raise funds to strengthen its balance sheet after its quarterly loss tripled on rising investments at mobile-shopping unit Shopee.

The Singapore-based gaming and e-commerce company said its net loss during the three months ended in March was $215.6 million, compared with $73.1 million a year earlier. Total revenue rose 65 percent to $155 million.

Sea, which initially modeled itself on Chinese giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., has struggled since an initial public offering in October amid widening losses. The company has invested heavily to expand beyond games into payments and e-commerce, where it faces entrenched competition from the likes of Lazada, which is controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The U.S.-traded stock jumped 7.6 percent Wednesday in New York to $11.45, 24 percent below the IPO price of $15.

“When you look at the longer term, there are many options for us to strengthen our balance sheet and unlock greater value for our shareholders,” Chief Strategy Officer Alan Hellawell said during a conference call. “These could include raising money at the Shopee level. We remain totally open-minded about fundraising.”

Sea raised its 2018 forecast for total adjusted revenue to be between $780 million and $820 million, up from previously estimated range of between $730 million and $770 million. The measure considers changes in deferred revenue at digital entertainment unit Garena as well as other factors.

The company’s “gross margin will remain pressured and losses will widen as it invests in growth,” Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Matthew Kanterman and Andrew Eisenson wrote in a note ahead of Sea’s earnings report.

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Sea also raised its full-year forecast for e-commerce gross merchandise value. It now expects Shopee’s GMV to reach between $8.2 billion and $8.7 billion in 2018. Sea had previously forecast $7.5 billion to $8 billion.

Shopee’s first-quarter GMV was $1.9 billion, up from $648.3 million a year earlier.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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