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Gaw Capital Partners launches Data Center First under JV with former Equinix APAC mastermind

Investors plan to debut their first facility in Indonesia with the goal to develop further data centre projects in Southeast Asia and beyond.

By João Marques Lima

Founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

5 Mins

July 23, 2021 | 11:03 AM BST

Gaw Capital Partners launches Data Center First under JV with former Equinix APAC mastermind

Artistic impression of what the new company's first data centre will look like in Indonesia. Source: Gaw Capital Partners

Real estate private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners said it has established a new joint venture operating company, Data Center First Pte Ltd., with Wong Ka Vin as the co-founder and chief executive officer with its maiden project in Batam, Indonesia.

Headquartered in Singapore, Data Center First is a data centre operator and the first platform investment made by Gaw Capital Partners to support its internet data centre (IDC) investments in Asia outside of China.

Ka Vin is an industry veteran with a track record in building successful data centre platforms and professional teams including i-STT in 1999, followed by Equinix Asia Pacific in 2002 where he helped shape Equinix into what the business is today in the region following the i-STT acquisition, CSF Group Asia which became ChinData in 2011, and more recently, he led and rebranded 1-Net.

Data Center First’ debut project will be a data centre campus in Nongsa Digital Park, ailed has the “Digital Bridge” that connects Singapore to many of Indonesia’s fast-growing cities.

In addition to this maiden project in Batam, Data Center First will also work with Gaw Capital Partners to originate, evaluate and develop data centre projects in Southeast Asia and beyond, the company explained in a statement.

Gaw Capital Partners is not new to data centre investments. In September 2020, the company closed fundraising for its IDC platform, which has invested in a portfolio of projects in partnership with IDC developers and operators in China, bringing the total equity raised of approximately US$1.3 billion, to build “green, efficient, innovative and recyclable” data centre clusters.

Kenneth Gaw, president and managing principal of Gaw Capital Partners, said: “I am excited to be working with Ka Vin and his team of professionals in creating this data centre operating platform. It signals a key milestone in Gaw Capital Partners’ growth in the data centre industry, an industry that enables digital transformation opportunities for organizations globally to continue to grow.

“We plan to grow our regional data centre platform rapidly through a combination of multiple asset and platform acquisitions and our partnership with Data Center First is the first step in the execution of this strategy.”

Gaw Capital Partners said it sees the IDC development as part of the bigger story that will encompass the broader and larger global opportunities that the digital economy brings.

Ka Vin added: “The next generation data centre operators will need a deep understanding on how to exploit M&E and IT technologies in combination to create a more effective and valuable service experience for our customers.

“Data Center First will keep pace with the latest trend and provide industry-leading experience in the market for our clients.”

Indonesia’s data centre market is witnessing considerable growth in data centre services and is the second-largest data centre market among South-eastern countries. The data centre market includes around 14 third-party data centre service providers operating around 40 data centre facilities.

The country includes several on-premise or dedicated data centres owned by local enterprises. Data centre investments from global cloud service providers is likely to grow during the forecast period. Around six data centre facilities are expected to be operational in the next 2-3 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a strong market enabler for digital transformation initiatives in the country.

In 2020, Indonesia’s cloud computing market grew at a rate of over 45% compared to the last five years. In 2021, the internet penetration rate has gone up by over 73% from over 64% in 2018.

Earlier this month, Gaw Capital Partners also announced the appointment of Kok-Chye Ong as managing director and heead of its IDC platform for Asia (Ex-China). Ong is based in Singapore and prior to joining Gaw Capital Partners, he worked in the Keppel Group of companies for 10 years in a number of roles including being a Senior Vice President and since 2014, as the Head of Strategy and Global Investments at Keppel Data Centres, a regional data centre owner and operator with over 25 data centres spread across the APAC and European regions.

He has over 20 years of international experience in data centres, telecom and submarine cable development projects. He has a strong track record in fundraising, growing data centre businesses in key markets in Asia and Europe, and leading investment teams to acquire data centres in Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and the Netherlands.

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João Marques Lima

Founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

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