Business

Scion of one of Asia’s richest families, a new family office, and a SPAC backed by the ex-head of Credit Suisse

As capital markets boom, the next gen of big family business dynasties is increasingly getting bolder with their efforts to make it in the world of investing as this latest example illustrates. 

Jackson Widjaja, who heralds from one of South East Asia’s wealthiest families, the Indonesia-based Widjajas, is fast establishing his name as a deal maker.

His family owns Sinar Mas Group, a huge conglomerate, involved in paper and pulp production, finance, telecommunications, mining and more. Jackson is the son of Teguh Widjaja, chairman of Sinar Mas Group; Teguh, in turn, is the eldest son of the company’s founder Eka Tjipta Widjaja, who died in 2019 not before building a personal fortune estimated at close to $12 billion. 

After Eka’s death, his grandchildren – of whom there are many given the family patriarch was estimated to have had at least 40 children – were urged by the second generation to forge their own futures by growing the family business empire.

Jackson looks to have taken this advice on board – albeit from the perspective of deal-making outside of the family enterprise. The 30-something, Vancouver-based entrepreneur and investor has so far done this through a Canadian paper and pulp company called Paper Excellence. There are a lot of superlatives in the names of the companies linked to Jackson. 

Through numerous mergers & acquisitions – presumably, at least partly masterminded by Jackson – Paper Excellence has grown very rapidly to become one of the biggest paper and pulp companies in Canada. 

But Jackson doesn’t just want to be associated with a paper and pulp business. Last month, a family office owned by him became the main sponsor of a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) called ExcelFin Acquisition Corp. The SPAC did its initial public offering last month, raising around $200 million, which it plans to use to target acquisitions in the fintech sector, according to filings. 

Jackon’s family office is Grand Fortune Capital, set up in Hong Kong last November and with a subsidiary based in New York City. According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the managing director of GFC is Brian Sun, who also lists on his LinkedIn profile that he is managing director of Global Vision Capital US – another family office. GRC and GVC are likely to be linked, perhaps both owned by Jackson, or at least members of the Widjaja family. 

Interestingly, backing the SPAC as an advisor is Brady Dougan, the former CEO of Credit Suisse. After leaving Credit Suisse in 2015, Dougan set up a fintech platform called Exos.  

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